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Overview

 

                 Thailand’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) can be categorized into 3 groups:

                     (1) Grant and technical cooperation

                     (2) Financial Assistance and Soft Loan

                     (3) Contribution to International Organizations

 

                The Thai Government has two agencies which are authorized to administer Thailand’s official development assistance (ODA). One is the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  TICA is responsible for providing technical cooperation and various forms of development cooperation. The other agency is the Neighboring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA), which is a public organization under the Ministry of Finance, and is responsible for providing financial assistance.  Some ministries, .i.e. Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Labor, undertake their monetary contributions to international organizations directly by themselves.

                Since 2006, TICA has been reporting Thailand’s ODA to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on a voluntary basis.  As an upper-middle income country, Thailand is not a member of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) / OECD, and is not required to submit ODA reports.  By voluntarily sending reports to the OECD, Thailand allows the OECD to keep record of its ODA and cemented its status as an emerging donor, with a view to meet the OECD’s recommendations that member countries should set aside at least 0.7 percent of their respective GNI as ODA.

                At present, OECD database shows that Thailand is both a provider and user of technical assistance.  However, trends in the past decades indicate a gradual rise in Thailand’s status as a provider, and its role as a user in decline.

 

                Thailand’s emergence as a provider of technical assistance

                At the onset of 1946, Thailand firmly established itself as one of the fastest growing user of economic and technical assistance, with aids coming in from several countries such as the US, Japan, Australia, Canada, European countries and the United Nations. Such assistance was crucial in transforming and strengthening Thailand’s economic structure and position in international trade. Towards the end of the 1980s, Thailand registered an annual economic growth at 10.5 percent a year, gravitating the country beyond several other developing countries and towards the status as a developed country. One effect of Thailand’s development is that some developed countries started to cooperate with Thailand as partner rather than a recipient of aids. At present, Thailand’s status as a user of technical assistance has greatly diminished, along with the remaining aids including those from Japan, South Korea, China, Germany, the US and some international organizations that have cooperated with Thailand in fostering human resources development, especially in science, technology and innovation.

 

                Thailand’s role in development cooperation

                     1963-2004 Department of Technical and Economic Cooperation

                     1954 Thailand as a Recipient of Foreign Aid

                     2003-2015 Thailand as an Emerging Donor for MDGs

                     2004 Establishment of TICA

                     2016-present Thailand as a Partner for SDGs

 

                On the other hand, Thailand’s role as a provider of economic and technical assistance has greatly increased. This is nothing new, however, as Thailand’s provider status actually began in 1955. Thailand’s contribution at the time was limited to organizing study visit trips and training for other developing countries. In 1991, the Royal Thai Government, taking into account Thailand’s economic growth and the shifting international perception of Thailand, started to increase budget allocated for technical assistance to neighboring countries, as part of its policy to “turn the battlefield into commercial field.” In 1992, the budget for technical assistance to neighboring countries increased to 175 million baht (from 25 million baht in 1991), and 203 million baht in 1993.  At the same time, modalities of Thailand’s ODA also shifted towards development cooperation projects and technology transfer by experts.

                Thailand’s experience as ODA recipient over 40 years, coupled with the change in political and economic landscape, helped to shape Thailand’s emerging role as ODA provider.  Global issues and agenda also influence Thailand’s foreign policy to emphasize more on development cooperation with international partners.  Thailand’s emerging role as ODA donor has been well received by countries in the region such as member countries of the Ayeyawady – Chao Phraya – Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), Greater-Mekong Subregion (GMS), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Latin American, the Caribbean and African countries.

                At present, the public, private sector and the civil society are free to contact foreign countries directly for technical assistance without TICA’s authorization.  Agencies are encouraged to report their assistance projects to TICA as the main agency to compile a report to OECD.

                In terms of Soft Loan, Neighboring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA) emphasizes 4 areas for consideration: (1) transportation connectivity (2) energy (3) urban development and (4) human resource development.  Currently, there are 7 countries which has taken such loans from NEDA, namely Laos PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste.

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