This policy brief looks into the recently released Asian century white paper and the impact this will have on Australian aid in Asia.
Key Points -
The lack of substantive discussion on aid policy probably reflects uncertainty within the Australian government about how to respond to two fundamental issues related to Australia’s aid to Asia.
The first of these is whether it is appropriate, or even possible, for the Australian government to continue increasing aid to developing countries in Asia.
The second issue is how to engage with Asian countries in relation to what is perhaps the region’s main future development challenge: rising inequality.
Combined together, these two issues have thus created a difficult environment for the government to formulate future directions for Australian aid programs in Asia. In this respect, it is perhaps not surprising that it opted to defer addressing these issues until a later date.
It will not be able to do so indefinitely, however. With the Australian aid program scheduled to grow dramatically over the next few years and Asian engagement back on the national policy agenda, it will be important for the government to clearly indicate how the two priorities fit together.