Korea will send most of its official development assistance to Asia, but provide more aid to Africa ahead of the country’s entry into the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The Dong-A Ilbo acquired an internal government report on major countries to get overseas assistance from the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry yesterday. Singled out were 19 countries as major beneficiaries of Korea’s free developmental assistance cooperation, including Laos, Iraq, Nigeria, Guatemala and Uzbekistan.
The report contained the poverty situations, economic development plans, Korea’s assistance trends, evaluation and lessons learned from these countries and regions that receive support. It also presented assistance strategies according to the characteristics and needs of each nation.
The ministry named Asia as the region to get top priority and will maintain the level of official development assistance to the region at 40 to 50 percent. Notably, Seoul will heavily support the three newly emerging investment destinations of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
The reconstruction of Afghanistan was also included as a priority in the assistance plan.
On the method of aid, the government will expand programs designed to transfer Korea’s experience in overcoming poverty and achieving economic development, including five-year economic development plans and the Saemaeul (new community) Movement of the 1970s.
For Africa, Seoul will extend more than 20 percent of its official development assistance to the continent over three years considering that many countries there are highly in debt and impoverished. Such assistance will primarily focus on sub-Saharan countries, including Ethiopia and Tanzania, which are considered the world’s poorest.
For the Middle East, Korea will continue a reconstruction program in Iraq worth 200 million U.S. dollars, including loans and free assistance, through 2011. It will also keep its promise of providing 20 million dollars through next year to other Mideast countries, including Palestine and Jordan, to contribute to regional peace.
Oh Joon, head of the ministry’s office of multilateral diplomacy coordination, told a news briefing yesterday, “Korea is highly likely to become a member of the Development Assistance Committee at a special OECD conference in Paris Wednesday. Korea’s joining of the DAC is significant in that the international community recognizes Korea as an advanced country in foreign aid, as we are the world’s only nation that has changed from foreign aid recipient to donor.”
“The government will raise the volume and quality of foreign aid using our entry into the DAC as a turning point,” he said. “Korea will increase the portion of official development assistance to 90 percent of its foreign aid and increase unconditional aid to 75 percent by 2015.”
President Lee Myung-bak also held a summit with visiting Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade at his office yesterday.
“Korea picked 2010 as the year for improving economic and cultural relations with all African countries,” President Lee said. “Since Korea knows well the pain of poverty and underdevelopment better than anyone else, and has the know-how and experience with which to overcome such pain, we can truly assist Africa’s development and advancement.”