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Millennium Development Goal 8
10 September 2005
Report: Thailand's Contribution to Millennium Development Goal 8
As a successful middle-income country with decades of experience and lessons learnt in advancing human development, Thailand is well-positioned to contribute to the global partnership for development called for in Millennium Development Goal 8.

By engaging in South-South development cooperation and taking a leading role in sub-regional and regional cooperation initiatives, Thailand is actively sharing with other countries its own knowledge of what it takes to rapidly reduce poverty, improve health and education, and face the challenges of environmentally sustainable development. By opening up its markets to imports from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and providing significant amounts of foreign direct investment , Thailand is also contributing to progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in the region and beyond.

This report shows that middle-income countries such as Thailand have an increasingly important role to play in the global campaign to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. It shows that a global partnership for development is not just about the North helping the South but also about solidarity and cooperation between countries of the South.

With this report, Thailand joins several OECD countries in reporting on their contributions to Millennium Development Goal 8 in the lead-up to the 2005 World Summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Building partnerships through regional cooperation
Thailand's contribution to the global partnership for development is guided by principles of self-help, partnerships, and sharing of development experience. Under its foreign policy of "forward engagement", and guided by a strong commitment to support neighbouring countries to develop and prosper, Thailand has helped to establish bilateral and sub-regional cooperation frameworks and trade agreements. Thailand is also actively pursuing the "Look West" policy with a view to enhancing cordial relations and promoting constructive cooperation with countries in South Asia and Africa. Reaching beyond the region, Thailand has established wider partnerships and agreements that include countries in the Pacific and elsewhere.
Offering development assistance
Thailand offers a significant amount of Official Development Assistance (ODA), most of it to Least Developed Countries in the region. In fiscal year 2003, Thai ODA was conservatively estimated at US$ 167 million, or 0.13 percent of Thailand's Gross National Income (GNI).

Nearly all - 93 percent - of Thai ODA is going to LDCs, in comparison with an average of 33 percent for OECD countries. As a result, Thai ODA to LDCs is estimated at 0.12 percent of Thailand's GNI, higher than Australia, Japan, the United States, and several other OECD countries.

Most Thai ODA is in support of basic infrastructure development in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and the Maldives, such as construction of roads, bridges, dams and power stations. This type of infrastructure is an important part of longer-term economic development helping to pave the way for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals in these countries.

The remainder of Thai ODA is in the form of technical assistance and training in the areas of education, public health, agriculture, transportation, economics, banking, finance, and science and technology, as well as contributions to the UN System and the Asian Development Fund of the ADB.
Opening up markets
By opening up its markets to imports from Least Developed Countries, Thailand makes an important contribution to economic and human development in these countries. Thai imports from LDCs in the region include agricultural products, labour intensive manufactured goods, primary products, electricity from Lao PDR, and natural gas from Myanmar.

Thailand's imports from LDCs make up 3.1 percent of its total imports - more than any other middle-income country and more than any OECD country.

Increasing trade between Thailand and LDCs is the result of special trade concessions offered by Thailand under the ASEAN Integrated System of Preferences. Thailand's trade-weighted tariffs on imports from the LDCs in the region are by far the lowest of any developing country in the region. And its trade preferences on agricultural imports from the LDCs are at least as favourable as those offered by some of the OECD countries.

Thailand also contributes to the achievements of the MDGs in the LDCs in the region directly and indirectly by receiving labour from neighbouring countries on a large scale. Efforts are underway to try to regularize the status of these workers through registration and provision of work permits, in recognition that there is high unmet demand for labour in Thailand, and that the sending countries benefit from remittances. It is increasingly recognized that regularization will benefit all and also reduce exploitation and abuse.
Providing foreign direct investment
Thailand's private sector is increasingly investing abroad. Much of the Thai Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the neighbouring LDCs is channelled into the agriculture and food processing, manufacturing, and tourism sectors. These sectors have a high potential for employment generation and play an important role in the advancement of human development and the attainment of the MDGs in the host countries.

Thailand was the largest single investor in Lao PDR (30 percent of all FDI). In Myanmar, Thai investment ranked fourth (6 percent) and in Viet Nam ranked ninth (2.7 percent), and in Cambodia eighth (5 percent). Thai investments over the period were equal to 2.8 percent of GDP in Myanmar, 1.3 percent of GDP in Lao PDR, and 0.9 percent of GDP in Cambodia.
Looking into the future
As an emerging donor, Thailand has now a great opportunity to "leap-frog" and adapt international best practices to guide its future development assistance to LDCs. As Thai ODA matures, it is hoped that a greater proportion will be allocated in support of key social sectors development such as health, education, drinking water and sanitation. Thailand can also apply the highest international standards to the management of development assistance, introducing cutting edge results-based management, monitoring and evaluation. In addition, every effort is needed to ensure that development assistance is supportive of MDG-based national development and poverty reduction strategies and key priorities and needs of the partner country, with special attention to ensuring national ownership and sustainability of programmes.

Framing development cooperation as a contribution to the global partnership for development called for in Goal 8 has offered Thailand an opportunity to move beyond traditional economic cooperation of mutual benefit, towards a broader vision of helping to reduce poverty, improve health and education, protect the environment, and attain the Millennium Development Goals in the region and beyond.

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