This morning the BBC reported that the Department for International Trade (DIT) will be responsible for spending part of the £14 billion aid budget.
The government recently announced the first aid project directly managed by DIT, the £50m Investment Promotion Programme, which will count towards the government’s target of spending 0.7% of the national income on international development.
The plan is to develop the trade and investment promotion infrastructure in developing nations to support trade negotiations and attract foreign investment. As per the UK’s Aid Strategy, this support has the dual purpose of serving UK national interests and reducing poverty. More than a quarter of the aid budget is spent by other departments, up from a tenth in 2014.
In response to the reports, head of policy, advocacy and research here at Bond, Claire Godfrey, said: “This morning’s reports that more of the UK aid budget will be allocated to Department for International Trade would be alarming if it signifies an increasing shift back to the days of tied aid, where aid serves UK business needs, rather than trade working to help people escape poverty.
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“Trade with the developing world is most effective when it responds to the developing countries priorities, and when it works under fair trade conditions. Aid for trade doesn’t work if it is a prop for UK business interests and fails to prioritise the needs of people facing poverty, as well as protecting the environment.”
Using aid money for projects that explicitly support British-based companies was outlawed by the Labour government in 2001. We will have more information and response as this story develops. Follow us on Twitter.