News & Features
Millennium Development Goal 8
10 September 2005
As a successful middle-income country with decades of
experience and lessons learnt in advancing human
development, Thailand is well-positioned to contribute to
the global partnership for development called for in
Millennium Development Goal 8.
|Report: Thailand's Contribution to Millennium Development Goal 8
By engaging in South-South development cooperation
and taking a leading role in sub-regional and regional
cooperation initiatives, Thailand is actively sharing with
other countries its own knowledge of what it takes to
rapidly reduce poverty, improve health and education,
and face the challenges of environmentally sustainable
development. By opening up its markets to imports
from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and providing
significant amounts of foreign direct investment , Thailand
is also contributing to progress towards the Millennium
Development Goals in the region and beyond.
This report shows that middle-income countries such as
Thailand have an increasingly important role to play in the
global campaign to achieve the Millennium Development
Goals by 2015. It shows that a global partnership for
development is not just about the North helping the
South but also about solidarity and cooperation between
countries of the South.
With this report, Thailand joins several OECD countries
in reporting on their contributions to Millennium
Development Goal 8 in the lead-up to the 2005 World
Summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Building partnerships through regional
Thailand's contribution to the global partnership for
development is guided by principles of self-help,
partnerships, and sharing of development experience.
Under its foreign policy of "forward engagement", and
guided by a strong commitment to support neighbouring
countries to develop and prosper, Thailand has helped
to establish bilateral and sub-regional cooperation
frameworks and trade agreements. Thailand is also actively
pursuing the "Look West" policy with a view to enhancing
cordial relations and promoting constructive cooperation
with countries in South Asia and Africa. Reaching beyond
the region, Thailand has established wider partnerships
and agreements that include countries in the Pacific and
Offering development assistance
Thailand offers a significant amount of Official
Development Assistance (ODA), most of it to Least
Developed Countries in the region. In fiscal year 2003, Thai
ODA was conservatively estimated at US$ 167 million, or
0.13 percent of Thailand's Gross National Income (GNI).
Nearly all - 93 percent - of Thai ODA is going to LDCs,
in comparison with an average of 33 percent for OECD
countries. As a result, Thai ODA to LDCs is estimated at 0.12
percent of Thailand's GNI, higher than Australia, Japan,
the United States, and several other OECD countries.
Most Thai ODA is in support of basic infrastructure
development in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and the
Maldives, such as construction of roads, bridges, dams and
power stations. This type of infrastructure is an important
part of longer-term economic development helping to
pave the way for the attainment of the Millennium
Development Goals in these countries.
The remainder of Thai ODA is in the form of technical
assistance and training in the areas of education, public
health, agriculture, transportation, economics, banking,
finance, and science and technology, as well as
contributions to the UN System and the Asian Development
Fund of the ADB.
Opening up markets
By opening up its markets to imports from Least
Developed Countries, Thailand makes an important
contribution to economic and human development
in these countries. Thai imports from LDCs in the region
include agricultural products, labour intensive
manufactured goods, primary products, electricity from
Lao PDR, and natural gas from Myanmar.
Thailand's imports from LDCs make up 3.1 percent of its
total imports - more than any other middle-income
country and more than any OECD country.
Increasing trade between Thailand and LDCs is the result
of special trade concessions offered by Thailand under
the ASEAN Integrated System of Preferences. Thailand's
trade-weighted tariffs on imports from the LDCs in the
region are by far the lowest of any developing country in
the region. And its trade preferences on agricultural
imports from the LDCs are at least as favourable as those
offered by some of the OECD countries.
Thailand also contributes to the achievements of the
MDGs in the LDCs in the region directly and indirectly by
receiving labour from neighbouring countries on a large
scale. Efforts are underway to try to regularize the status
of these workers through registration and provision of
work permits, in recognition that there is high unmet
demand for labour in Thailand, and that the sending
countries benefit from remittances. It is increasingly
recognized that regularization will benefit all and also
reduce exploitation and abuse.
Providing foreign direct investment
Thailand's private sector is increasingly investing abroad.
Much of the Thai Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the
neighbouring LDCs is channelled into the agriculture and
food processing, manufacturing, and tourism sectors. These
sectors have a high potential for employment generation
and play an important role in the advancement of human
development and the attainment of the MDGs in the host
Thailand was the largest single
investor in Lao PDR (30 percent of all FDI). In Myanmar, Thai
investment ranked fourth (6 percent) and in Viet Nam
ranked ninth (2.7 percent), and in Cambodia eighth (5
percent). Thai investments over the period were equal to
2.8 percent of GDP in Myanmar, 1.3 percent of GDP in Lao
PDR, and 0.9 percent of GDP in Cambodia.
Looking into the future
As an emerging donor, Thailand has now a great
opportunity to "leap-frog" and adapt international best
practices to guide its future development assistance to
LDCs. As Thai ODA matures, it is hoped that a greater
proportion will be allocated in support of key social
sectors development such as health, education, drinking
water and sanitation. Thailand can also apply the highest
international standards to the management of
development assistance, introducing cutting edge
results-based management, monitoring and evaluation.
In addition, every effort is needed to ensure that
development assistance is supportive of MDG-based
national development and poverty reduction strategies
and key priorities and needs of the partner country, with
special attention to ensuring national ownership and
sustainability of programmes.
Framing development cooperation as a contribution to the
global partnership for development called for in Goal 8 has
offered Thailand an opportunity to move beyond
traditional economic cooperation of mutual benefit,
towards a broader vision of helping to reduce poverty,
improve health and education, protect the environment,
and attain the Millennium Development Goals in the
region and beyond.