Korea Stingy in Helping World’s Poor
By Jane Han
South Korea is the world's stingiest rich nation in helping developing countries as it erects high trade barriers and offers the least amount of foreign aid, according to the 2009 Commitment to Development Index (CDI), Thursday.
The index, released by the Washington-based Center for Global Development (CGD), annually ranks 22 wealthy economies based on how their aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security and technology policies benefit poor nations.
This is the second consecutive year Asia's fourth-largest economy finished last, pointing to the country's need to increase participation in overseas aids programs. Korea seeks to join the aid committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) next year.
The entry into the Development Assistance Committee means that Korea would increase international assistance in keeping with its economic power.
According to the OECD, Korea committed just 0.09 percent of its gross national income (GNI) to development assistance in 2007, which falls far below the United Nations-recommended 0.7 percent.
This year's CGD report showed that small European nations did most for the world's poor, with Sweden ranking first, Denmark second and Norway tying for third with the Netherlands. The G7 major industrialized countries comparatively fared lower, with none in the top 10.
The United States took 17th place, while Japan came in second to last at 21st, the report said.
"In an increasingly integrated world, rich countries cannot insulate themselves from global poverty and insecurity," CGD President Nancy Birdsall said in a statement.
Korea's overall score improved slightly this year. But the country ranked in the bottom five in seven index categories ― scoring well only in technology, where it was ranked second, and investment, where it finished eighth.
It turned out to be the weakest in the areas of migration, aid, trade, security and environment.
"The country has a very small foreign aid program, the highest barriers to developing-country exports ― notably, rice ― and a low number of unskilled immigrants entering from developing countries as a share of its population," said David Roodman, a CGD research fellow and the architect of the index.
The report also indicated that Korea ranked last in environment because of its high imports of tropical wood and its high per-capita use of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer.