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Speaking Of...Foreign Aid : Weighing the Purses of the World's Givers

November 20, 1990

Overseas aid from the world's major industrialized countries dropped by about 2% in real terms last year, mainly due to timing quirks in U. S. contributions to the World Bank. Meanwhile, the 18 members of the so-called Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development have increased their aid by an annual average rate of 2.3% during the last five years. And most of the member countries are committed to continuing growth in their contributions both in absolute terms and as a proportion of their gross national products.

While government giving fell slightly last year, the total flow of aid to developing countries, including that from private sources, rose to an estimated $109 billion from $104 billion the year before.

Overseas aid Aid as percentage Percent in millions of Gross National change from Country dollars Product 1988* Australia $1,017 0.37% -15.2% Austria 282 0.23 -2.1 Belgium 716 0.47 +19.6 Canada 2,302 0.44 -9.9 Denmark 1,003 1.00 +13.6 Finland 705 0.63 +10.8 France 5,140** 0.54 +11.4 West Germany 4,953 0.41 +9.2 Ireland 49 0.17 -10.2 Italy 3,325 0.39 +3.0 Japan 8,958 0.32 +4.0 Netherlands 2,094 0.94 -0.1 New Zealand 87 0.22 -12.9 Norway 919 1.02 -2.9 Sweden 1,809 0.98 +15.2 Switzerland 559 0.30 -2.1 United Kingdom 2,588 0.31 -0.3 United States 7,664 0.15 -27.4*** Total 46,498 0.33 -2.0

* Adjusted for changes in prices and exchange rates vis-a-vis the U.S. dollar.

** Excludes $2,327 million in aid to France's overseas territories.

*** The large apparent drop in U.S. aid results in large part from special factors related to the timing of contributions to the International Development Association of the World Bank.

Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development

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