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Thailand Gives Lion's Share of Aid to Low Income Neighbours - Kingdom Tops Region for Lowest Tariffs to Poorest Countries
13 September 2005
Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- Thailand offers more open trade concessions and provides more aid as a percentage of its income to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) than many European countries. In fact, nearly all of Thailand's development assistance goes to its low income neighbours, while wealthier nations contribute on average only one-third of their aid to the world's poorest countries.

"With this report, the Royal Thai Government once again reaffirms its strong commitment to the global campaign to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 as contained in the Millennium Declaration," said H.E. Dr. Pracha Guna-Kasem, Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. "Thailand supports the MDGs, not only within our own borders, but across the globe."

Thailand is emerging as an increasingly important player in the international aid scene, as revealed in a new report launched today by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Country Team in Thailand entitled: Global Partnership for Development: Thailand's Contribution to Millennium Development Goal 8. The eighth Millennium Development Goal - to develop a global partnership for development - calls on rich countries to increase aid, relieve debt, and give poor countries fairer access to their markets.

With this Report, presented on the eve of the 2005 World Summit in New York, Thailand becomes the first middle-income developing country to join several countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to publish a report specifically on its contribution to the global partnership for development:

* Thailand is a significant contributor of development assistance to its neighboring Least Developed Countries (LDC). Thailand's ODA amounted to 0.13% of its gross national income in 2003, not far behind Japan at (0.20%), Italy (0.17%), and the United States (0.15%). OECD countries, on average, give only 33% of their ODA to LDCs, while Thailand gives 93% to the countries most in need of support. This means that Thailand provides more aid to LDCs as a percentage of its income than several OECD countries.

* By opening up its markets to imports from LDCs, Thailand contributes 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, and natural gas.

* Among all developing countries in Asia, Thailand imposes the lowest tariffs on imports from LDCs. As a result, Thailand's imports from LDCs as a percentage of total imports -- over 3% -- are higher than any other middle-income country, and higher than any OECD country.

* Thailand provides substantial foreign direct investment into basic infrastructure in Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Maldives - investments that are an essential prerequisite for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals in these countries. Thai investments are also channeled into the agricultural, manufacturing and tourism sectors - all with a high potential for income and employment generation for people in recipient countries.

* Through a foreign policy of "forward engagement", Thailand is playing a leading role in a number of regional and sub-regional development cooperation frameworks and trade agreements aimed at closing the economic disparity between countries in the region. Looking beyond this region, Thailand is now also pursuing a "Look West" policy with a view of enhancing its development cooperation with South Asia and Africa.

"This report shows that aid is not just about rich countries helping poor countries. It is also about countries of the South helping each other," said Joana Merlin-Scholtes, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Thailand.

Looking into the future, Thailand has now a great opportunity to learn from the successes and failures of decades of development cooperation, concludes the report. Thailand can thus "leap-frog" by adopting international best practices and cutting-edge thinking from the more progressive OECD donors in guiding its development assistance to LDCs in the region and beyond. The Report recommends that future ODA from Thailand could expand in support of social sectors such as health, education, community development and poverty reduction.

As a joint publication of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Country Team in Thailand, the Report is expected to make a valuable contribution to the policy debate in Thailand on the direction of Thai development cooperation with Least Developed Countries in the region and beyond. It also seeks to have a significant impact outside Thailand by providing a source of ideas and inspiration for other middle-income countries committed to contributing to the global partnership for development called for in Millennium Development Goal Eight.

For more information, please contact:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand:

Somsak Triamjangarun
Telephone: (+66) 02-643-5078

Nipatsorn Kampa
Telephone: (+66) 02-643-5000

United Nations Development Programme:

Punnipa Ruangtorsak
Telephone: (+66) 02-288-2130

Dennis Duncan
Telephone: (+66) 02-288-2646