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Economic Responses to the Crisis: Regulation and Reform since 2008

British Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the 2008 Financial Crisis: a Noteworthy Commitment or a Self-interested Strategy?

L’Aide publique au développement britannique et la crise financière de 2008 : engagement exemplaire ou stratégie intéressée?
Ondine Aza

Abstracts

In the wake of the financial crisis, which started in the United States in 2007 and given the problems that developed countries had to face internally, Official Development Assistance (ODA) was expected to be negatively affected. However, in 2010, net ODA was actually 63% above its 2000 level. So we can wonder if development aid has proven to be one of the few areas which resisted the onslaught of the crisis. The paper will focus on the case of British assistance in recent times. It is indeed both interesting and relevant to pay special attention to the British example due to its colonial history; Britain has always stood out when it came to development aid and has displayed a much more extended vision of aid than what is strictly required by the United Nations (UN) or World Bank standards. British ODA has actually steadily increased since 2007. So far, the United Kingdom (UK) has clearly shown a solid attachment to development and is amongst the few advanced economies that fulfil the target of allocating 0.7 percent of their Gross National Income to ODA. Given the motivations of the British government in its commitment to aid, it is argued that Britain is likely to continue its good performance as a provider of ODA.

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Introduction

  • 1 Barder Owen, “Reforming Development Assistance: Lessons from the UK Experience”, Working Paper 70 ( (...)

1Official Development Assistance (ODA) is the international indicator of aid worldwide. It is managed by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The European Recovery Program (known as the Marshall Plan) funded by the United-States and which provided capital and technical expertise to boost European economies after World War II influenced the setting up of the DAC in 1961, marking a new approach to cooperation in policy-making.1

2In 1969, the concept of Official Development Assistance was adopted and since 1972, it has been defined as

  • 2 OECD Stats, [Online], <http://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/officialdevelopmentassistancedefInitionandcoverage.htm>, [27 (...)

“Flows to developing countries and multilateral institutions provided by official agencies, including state and local governments, or by their executive agencies, each transaction of which meets the following test: (1) It is administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective and (2) it is concessional in character and contains a grant element of at least 25 per cent (calculated at a rate of discount of 10 percent).”2

  • 3 These are Sweden in 1974, the Netherlands in 1975, Norway in 1976 and Denmark in 1978 – see Fuhrer (...)
  • 4 DfID, Statistics on International Development 2014 (London, 2014), p. 9.

3The indicator used to evaluate donor country aid participation is the ratio ODA: Gross National Income (GNI). In 1970, the United Nations adopted the target of a ratio for ODA to GNI of 0.7 and donor countries were invited to reach this target during the decade. Only 4 countries have done so.3 In 2000, the UN issued the United Nations Millennium Declaration where it pledged to fulfil a series of targets by 2015. These targets are known as the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDG). One of them is a pledge to develop a global partnership for development and donor countries renewed their pledge to reach the 0.7 target by 2015. In 200 rIsclass la luowe invited to reach this target3done so.1

  • 4 DfID, Statistics on International Develop05/06-op09/1Paper 70 (Lond0n, 20143, p. 9.

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Notes

1 Barder Owen, “Reforming Development Assistance: Lessons from the UK Experience”, Working Paper 70 (London, 2005), p. 4.

2 OECD Stats, [Online], <http://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/officialdevelopmentassistancedefInitionandcoverage.htm>, [27th May 2015].

3 These are Sweden in 1974, the Netherlands in 1975, Norway in 1976 and Denmark in 1978 – see Fuhrer Helmut, The Story of Official Development Assistance, A History of the Development Assistance Committee and the Development Co-operation Directorate in Dates, Names and Figures (Paris, 1996), p. 26.

4 DfID, Statistics on International Development 2014 (London, 2014), p. 9.

5 DfID, Statistics on International Development 2005/06-2009/10 (London, 2010), p. 3.

6 OECD, Is it ODA? Factsheet, (Paris, 2008)

7 OECD Stats, [Online], <http://www.oecd.org/dac/>, [27th May 2015].

8 Development Initiative, Investment to End Poverty: Real money, real choices, real lives (Bristol, 2013), p. 80.

9 Ibid. p. 214.

10 Ibid. p. 3.

11 Ibid. p. 43.

12 Ibid. p. 59.

13 OECD, [Online], <http://www.oecd.org/newsroom/aid-to-developing-countries-rebounds-in-2013-to-reach-an-all-time-high.htm>, [27th May 2015].

14 OECD, [Online], <http://www.oecd.org/newsroom/aidtopoorcountriesslipsfurtherasgovernmentstightenbudgets.htm>, [27th May 2015]. 

15 The apparent drop for the period 2005-2007 is in fact the result of an exceptional debt relief in 2005 and 2006 in favour of Nigeria and Iraq, decided at the 2005 Gleneagles Summit. Since debt relief is included in ODA statistics, aid recorded in 2005 and 2006 was exceptionally higher than usual, hence the apparent drop thereafter. This exceptional debt relief apart, the growth was steady up till 2010.

16 The official position is to “focus UK aid more tightly on the countries where the UK is well placed to have a significant long-term impact on poverty”. See for instance the speech of former Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell to Parliament in 2011 – [Online], <https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/statement-by-the-secretary-of-state-for-international-development-the-bilateral-and-multilateral-aid-reviews>, [17th May 2016]

17 In total, 128 countries received ODA from the UK in 2011, which amounts to 33% of British development aid going to 28% of all beneficiaries for that year.

18 Development Initiative, Investment to End Poverty, op.cit. p. 212.

19 If we discard years 2005 and 2006 which showed exceptional levels of bilateral ODA due to high amounts of debt relief for Nigeria and Iraq, the average ODA channelled through multilateral organisations for the periods 2000-2004 and 2007-2010 was 36% and for 2011-2014, it was of 39.4%.

20 The DfID has endeavoured to enhance its contribution to multilateral aid since it considers that it can have more leverage thanks to pooled resources – DfID, FCO & MOD, Building Stability Overseas Strategy, (London 2011), p.18. The view that multilateral aid increases efficiency is not shared by Ram who deems that multilateral ODA does not work – RAM Rati “Roles of Bilateral and Multilateral Aid in Economic Growth of Developing Countries”, Kyklos, Vol. 56, No.1, 2003, pp.95-110.

21 The sources for these calculations are taken from various issues of DFID and OECD statistics. Given likely methodological differences in calculation and changes in the modes of reporting over the years, there are most likely some discrepancies.

22 These past few years, less ODA took the form of debt cancellation and as such, the share of bilateral ODA which is not transferred to recipient countries is smaller.

23 The guidelines provided by HM Treasury would seem to confirm this. Indeed, a report of the International Development Committee to the House of Commons states: “HM Treasury rules require DFID to spend £5 billion of ‘non-fiscal capital’ over this CSR [Comprehensive Spending Review] period. Non-fiscal capital is spending, such as loans, equity investments and certain contributions to multilateral development banks, which is expected to generate at least some financial return to DFIF in the future and therefore does not impact net public sector debt.” - INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE, “UK Aid: Allocation of Resources: Interim Report”, Third Report of Session 2015-16, House of Commons, March 2016, p.21.

24 Barder Owen, “Reforming Development Assistance”, op. cit., p. 13.

25 Lunn Jon, Miller Vaughne and Smith Ben, “British foreign policy since 1997”, Research Paper 08/56 (London, 2008)

26 BLAIR Tony, ‘Chicago Speech’ [Online], <http://www.britishpoliticalspeech.org/speech-archive.htm?speech=279>, [6th June 2015].

27 The 1964-1967 Ministry of Overseas Development was also a separate Government Cabinet. See Barder Owen, “Reforming Development Assistance”, op. cit., p. 7.

28 Lunn Jon, Miller Vaughne and Smith Ben, “British foreign policy since 1997”, op. cit., p. 9.

29 Barder Owen, “Reforming Development Assistance”, op. cit., p. 16.

30 Development Initiatives, Investment to End Poverty, op. cit., p. 214.

31 Seager Ashley, “Britain now the world’s second largest aid donor”, The Guardian, 5th October 2007, [Online], http://www.theguardian.com/politics/ [6th June 2015]

32 Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development from 2010 to 2012 said “There is not a Conservative, Liberal Democrat or Labour development policy, but a British one” – Glennie Jonathan, “Finally, the UK’s Labour Party Seems to Know Its Own Mind on Development” –The Guardian, [Online], 4th October 2012, <http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/oct/04/uk-labour-party-own-mind-development> [14th June 2015]

33 National Audit Office, The Performance of the Department for International Development 2013-14, (London, 2014), p. 18.

34 DfID, FCO & MOD, Building Stability Overseas Strategy, op. cit, p. 24.

35 Refer to note 24.

36 In his speech in Chicago where he expounded his international doctrine in 1999, Tony Blair said: “We have finally done away with the false proposition that we must choose between two diverging paths – the Transatlantic relationship or Europe. For the first time in the last three decades, we have a government that is both pro-Europe and pro-American” – BRITISH POLITICAL SPEECH, [Online], op. cit.

37 For example, in a review of Canada’s international development strategy, the DfID was described as “by far the best organization internationally” – GREENHILL Robert, “Making a Difference? External Views on Canada’s International Impact”, The Interim Report of the External Voices Project, (Toronto, 2005), p.28.

38 In their own words, “The Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions”. [Online] http://www.brookings.edu/about#research-programs/ [7th June 2015]

39 Hashmi Nabil, Birdsall Nancy & Kharas Homi, The Quality of Official Development Assistance 2014, CGD Brief, (London, 2014).

40 DfID, UK aid: Changing Lives, Delivering Results (London, 2011), p. 32.

41 SCHRAEDER Peter J., HOOK Steven W. and TAYLOR Bruce, “Clarifying the Foreign Aid Puzzle: A Comparison of American, Japanese, French and Swedish Aid Flows”, World Politics, Vol.50, No.2, (1998), pp.294-323.

42 For comparative studies on donor motivation, see for instance MCKINLAY Robert D., “The Aid Relationship: A Foreign Policy Model and Interpretation of the Distribution of Official Bilateral Economic Aid of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, 1660-1970”, Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 11, No.4, (1979), pp.411-464; BREUNING Marijke, “Words and Deeds: Foreign Assistance Rhetoric and Policy Behaviour in the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom”, International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 39, No.2, (1995), pp.235-254; PACQUEMENT François, “Le système d’aide au développement de la France et du Royaume-Uni : points de repère sur cinquante ans d’évolutions depuis la decolonisation”, Revue international de politique de développement [Online], http://poldev.revues.org/114 [16th May 2016]; STOKKE Olav (Ed.), Western Middle Powers and Global Poverty: The Determinants of the Aid Policies of Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, (Uppsala,1989); SCHRAEDER Peter J., HOOK Steven W. and TAYLOR Bruce, “Clarifying the Foreign Aid Puzzle”, op. cit.

43 In this respect, it is interesting to note that two empirical studies reach the conclusion that British aid often serves the purpose of extending British Influence. See MCKINLAY Robert D, “The Aid Relationship”, op. cit; Marijke Breuning, “Words and Deeds”, op. cit.

44 In the June 2016 referendum on whether the UK should leave the European Union, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is campaigning against an exit. In a speech delivered in May 2016, he recalled the importance of both the EU and the US for the UK – PM speech on the UK’s strength and security in the EU [Online] <https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-on-the-uks-strength-and-security-in-the-eu-9-may-2016>, [17th May 2016].

45 Several declarations have been made by various politicians including former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Current Conservative Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening.

46 The International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act was passed in early 2015. It puts into legislation the target of spending at least 0.7% of national income on aid.

47 SCHRAEDER Peter J., HOOK Steven W. and TAYLOR Bruce, “Clarifying the Foreign Aid Puzzle”, op. cit. pp. 310-311.

48 While speaking at the National Assembly in 2014, the Minister of Finance, Michel Sapin said: “Comme ministre des Finances, je me dois de rappeler d’abord combine le cadre budgétaire national est constraint. A ce titre, l’aide publique au développement participe aux efforts collectifs de redressement des comptes publics, enregistrant ainsi une baisse strict sensu en 2015 par rapport à 2014. Toutefois, cette baisse est compensée partiellement par les financements innovants. » - The full text can be accessed at [Online] <http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/14/budget/plf2015/commissions_elargies/cr/c005.asp> [27th May 2016]

49 Such a tax has been in place since 2012 (Taxe sur les Transactions Financières) and a percentage of its product is allocated to development projects.

50 SCHRAEDER Peter J., HOOK Steven W. and TAYLOR Bruce, “Clarifying the Foreign Aid Puzzle”, op. cit., pp.317-319

51 See OECD stats for more recent years

52 OECD Statistics database, [Online], <https://public.tableau.com/views/AidAtAGlance/DACmembers?:embed=y&:display_count=no?&:showVizHome=no#1>, [27th May 2016]

53 FRENCH DIPLOMACY, [Online], <http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/politique-etrangere-de-la-france/aide-au-developpement/dispositif-institutionnel-et-canaux-d-acheminement-de-l-aide-francaise/canaux-d-acheminement-de-l-aide/article/infographie-l-aide-au>, [27th May 2016]

54 Barder Owen, “Reforming Development Assistance”, op. cit., p. 31.

55 Ibid. p. 21.

56 Lunn Jon, Miller Vaughne and Smith Ben, “British foreign policy since 1997”, op. cit., p. 25.

57 Gagnon Michelle L. & Labonté Ronald, “ Understanding How and Why Health is Integrated into Foreign Policy – A Case Study of Health is Global, a UK, Government Strategy 2008-2013”, Globalization and Health, vol. 9, n° 24, (2013), p. 4.

58 Ibid.

59 Bose Anuradha and Burnell Peter (Eds.), Britain’s overseas aid since 1979: Between idealism and self-interest (Manchester, 1991).

60 Barder Owen, “Reforming Development Assistance”, op. cit., p. 23.

61 DfID, Business Plan 2011-2015 (London, 2011). Retrieved from <https://www.gov.uk/government/upl

oads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67658/DFID-business-plan.pdf> [15th May 2015]

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List of illustrations

Title Figure 1 – World ODA 2000-2014 (2014 price and exchange rates)
Caption Source: OECD Statistics [Online] <http://www2.compareyourcountry.org/​oda?cr=20001&cr1=oecd&lg=en&page=1#> [16th June 2015]
URL http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/docannexe/image/1082/img-1.png
File image/png, 30k
Title Figure 2 - ODA from the UK 1970-2014 (2014 prices and exchange rates)
Caption Source: OECE Statistics [Online] <http://www2.compareyourcountry.org/​oda?cr=20001&cr1=oecd&lg=en&page=1#> [16th June 2015]
URL http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/docannexe/image/1082/img-2.png
File image/png, 44k
Title Figure 3 – ODA: GNI ratio UK and DAC average
Caption Source: OECE Statistics [Online] <http://www2.compareyourcountry.org/​oda?cr=20001&cr1=oecd&lg=en&page=1#> [12th May 2015]
URL http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/docannexe/image/1082/img-3.png
File image/png, 34k
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References

Electronic reference

Ondine Aza, « British Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the 2008 Financial Crisis: a Noteworthy Commitment or a Self-interested Strategy? », Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique [Online], XXI-2 | 2016, Online since 08 October 2016, connection on 17 December 2017. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/1082 ; DOI : 10.4000/rfcb.1082

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About the author

Ondine Aza

Université Cergy Pontoise Equipe CERVEPAS/CREW

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Copyright

Licence Creative Commons
Revue française de civilisation britannique est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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