Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 12. 1964.

U.N. Conference on Trade and Development — Pat Caughley looks at NZ Foreign Aid

page 9

U.N. Conference on Trade and Development

Pat Caughley looks at NZ Foreign Aid

The Recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development marked the formal beginnings of the most intensive period of international negotiations and discussions in trade and economic matters since the early post-war years. It began auspiciously, ran its course for nearly four months, and ended in deadlock and compromise between the industrial and developing countries.

In Spite of the internal discord several promising schemes have emerged. A permanent UN body, the Trade and Development Board, has been established to continue the work of the UNCTAD clearing a way through the national trading policies for the developing countries to get moving. Proposals were made concerning aid for development with 1% of the Gross National Product as a goal for the more priviledged economies. Also formulated was a new plan for multilateral aid under the International Development Association.

NZ's Role Difficult

New Zealand's role at the conference was a difficult one. Although aligned with the white industrialised countries, economically we are in a similar position to the developing ones. At Geneva. New Zealand tended to sympathise with the under developed countries on the grounds of having an unstable and dependant economy in which exports are largely unprocessed raw materials vulnerable to price fluctuation. The statement made before the conference that the UK may end Commonwealth preferences in favour of the developing countries did not boost the New Zealand morale any.

By portraying a dismal but unfortunately realistic picture of the economy, New Zealand hoped to reap trade advantages, out finished up totally unsuccessful in its attempt to jump on the under-developed bandwagon. We were classified with the industrial countries along with that disconcerting goal of 1 per cent for foreign aid.

At present we are supplying about £14 million annually in aid which is spread over the Pacific territories. South East Asia and Africa. The principal outlet has continued to be the Colombo Plan. £12,146.000 having been made available up to 1963 for technical and capital assistance. Other recipients in our bilateral programme are Special Commonwealth Aid to Africa Plan, Commonwealth Education Scheme. Pacific territories, aid under Seato, and disaster relief.

Towards the Colombo Plan £lm. is allocated annually but not all is necessarily transferred. Since 1950 the emphasis between capital and technical assistance has shifted remarkably. In 1951-52 the ratio was approximately four to one in favour of capital aid but since 1956 the emphasis has reversed and more than half is devoted to technical assistance. So far 1482 student awards have been made for academic and technical training in New Zealand. This type of bilateral aid is possibly more acceptable to the New Zealand public who tend to believe that charity begins at home and can see the visual results of their generosity.

With the inflation in New Zealand since 1950 of about 50 %, the amount used in financing students has decreased in real terms. Is this an indication that we have a lesser desire to support the Colombo Plan when to put it on an equal footing with 1950 the amount allocated should be doubled? Or does the New Zealand Government consider the Importance of foreign aid to have decreased?

A similar project to the Colombo Plan is the Special Commonwealth Aid to Africa Plan which was established in 1960. New Zealand appropriates £lm. annually mainly for study awards and a total of 80 students have commenced training here. Volunteer Service Abroad is still in its infancy with 12 New Zealanders in the field. This is an extremely worthwhile scheme as manual techniques and simple technologies are needed as least as much as pure academic knowledge.

Contributions to UN assistance programmes form the other principal components of foreign aid. To the multilateral programme went £235,000 last year. The private aid organised through CORSO was valued at £lim. and consisted principally of food, clothing and medical supplies.

Impressive as these figures sound, the total aid given through the public sector amounted to only 0.1% of our Gross National Product last year, which Is far removed from that elusive goal of 1%. In comparison USA gives 0.7%.

Concentration Needed

Although our aid is generally sensibly spent and to good purpose, New Zealand is an extremely insignificant donor country because of the territorial expanse and densely populated areas over which aid is spread. To be of real help in promoting economic growth it would be more expedient to concentrate the same amount of aid in a smaller area. £1½m a year in the Pacific Islands, for which we are specifically responsible for anyway, would show a real result. With the racial problems and economic immaturity there, this policy could save New Zealand much trouble in the future.

Our justification for giving must be put on a rather nebulous basis of conformity or humanitarianism. We cannot hope to gain any lasting defensive or political advantages in South East Asia when our aid is so meagre. Even the amounts poured in by the United States show that the elimination of communism is just not demonstrable. We are under pressure from the rest of the world to give, and in future to increase it.