DFID publishes Economic Development Strategy

31 January 2017

The Department for International Development (DFID) has today published its first Economic Development Strategy. The paper sets out the department’s new approaches and priorities for economic development, which DFID says will increase developing countries’ levels of trade while speeding up economic growth and industrialisation.

The strategy states that by investing in the economic development of the world’s poorest countries the UK government can make “globalisation work for all” and build a truly global Britain. This also works to serve national interests, with the UK “playing a leading role on the international stage” while advancing its national security and foreign policy interests.

The main approach of the strategy for delivering these ambitions is using “aid for trade”: creating the potential and capacity for developing countries to become trading partners with the UK and the rest of the world. The department will use its voice in the World Trade Organisation to make the case for fairer trading rules for developing countries. Additionally, DFID says that the UK’s exit from the EU will provide an opportunity to build a trade policy that unlocks barriers to trade and development.

The strategy also highlights encouraging long-term, private investment in order to boost economic growth in developing countries, with the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) aiming to demonstrate the benefits of investment to the private sector. Further to this, DFID hopes to make it easier for companies to enter and invest in “markets of the future”, through working with businesses to understand the barriers that are in place. 

Later approaches in the strategy include having a greater focus on nutrition, human development and skills for work in order to improve access to employment, as well as focusing on the most marginalised, empowering women and girls and people with disabilities. 

In her foreword to the strategy, Priti Patel writes that the economic development strategy will be the mechanism through which DFID will achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It is clear that the Secretary of State hopes for her department to lead the government in fostering new trade relationships with developing countries, saying that “DFID’s ambition will be at the heart of the government’s emerging agenda on international trade and investment.”  The Secretary of State again expressed her prioritisation of trade on ITV News, saying that developing countries currently dependent on aid from the UK “will be our trading partners of the future”. 

You can read DFID's Economic Development Strategy here.