Aid: Dutch, Denmark ‘most committed’

Jim Lobe

The Netherlands and Denmark received top rankings for the second year in a row in the annual Commitment to Development Index (CDI) designed to measure the degree to which the world’s wealthiest countries pursue policies that benefit the planet’s poorest people.

Due to changes in the Index’s methodology, the US jumped from number 20 for 2001 to number seven in 2002 largely on the basis of its relatively open immigration policies and the inclusion of private contributions in calculating the total amount of aid that it provides to poor countries. Britain led all Group of Seven nations in fourth place, followed by Canada, which also improved its standing over 2001 due to more liberal immigration policies, Germany and France which tied with the US in seventh place.

The Index, released Tuesday by US-based ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine and the Centre for Global Development, is based on numerical calculations co-vering seven different national policies — aid, investment, migration, environment, security, technology and trade. In assessing an overall score for trade policy, the Index gives the greatest weight to the degree to which donor countries protect their home markets, through tariffs, quotas, and subsidies from developing country imports. It also measures how much rich nations import from poor countries, with additional points being granted for imports from the poorest nations and for manufacturing imports. In this category, the US topped the list for the second year in a row, while Norway scored lowest. On technology, Index researchers calculated government support for research and development (R&D) as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), although spending on defence-related R&D, in which Washington is dominant, was discounted by one-half. Austria and Canada came out on top with R&D spending of 0.9 per cent.

For security, points were accrued for participation in peacekeeping operations and forcible humanitarian interventions that had been authorised by multilateral bodies, such as the UN and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation from 1993 to 2000. Norway scored at the top of the pack, followed closely by Britain and Australia. Japan and Switzerland scored the lowest in this category, while the US, despite having committed more than 50,000 troops to interventions in Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo, ranked in the middle. The environmental score was based on a two-thirds weight given to the estimated harm done to the global commons by individual countries. Under this methodology, Switzerland scored first for the second year in a row, while the US came dead last as a result of its high greenhouse gas emissions and its continued boycott of the Kyoto Protocol.

The net inflow of people from poor countries to wea-lthy ones between 1995 and 2000 accounted for nearly two-thirds of the Index’s migration score, while the rest was determined by the amo-unt of aid host governments provide to refugees and asylum seekers and the percentage of students from developing countries. The Index found that Canada received the highest marks followed by the US and Australia. On investment, the Index tried to measure what donor governments do both to facilitate investment flows to poor countries and to ensure such investment promotes development. The Netherlands, Germany and Australia all received top scores in this area, while Ireland and New Zealand ranked lowest. Sweden ranked first among donors in aid category, followed closely by Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway. New Zealand ranked last, followed by Greece and the US. — IPS