From Recipient to Donor: Thailand's Role as a Provider of Development Cooperation in the World

University of Rostock's Joern Dosch discusses Thailand's 15 years long role as a recipient-turned-donor of international aid.

From Recipient to Donor: Thailand’s Role as a Provider of Development Cooperation in the World

In the recent two decades Thailand’s rapid development towards Newly Industrialised Country (NIC) and Middle Power status has been accompanied by the nation’s transformation from being solely a recipient of development aid (ODA) to acting as a donor through its Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA). In March 2003, the then-Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra gave a speech entitled “Forward Engagement” which would later become the name of a policy characterising the country’s emerging “recipient-turned-donor” identity. Since then TICA has played an active role in promoting development cooperation among countries in mainland Southeast Asia and beyond its own region, including South Asia, Africa and Latin America. That way, Thailand has established itself as one of the most visible “emerging donors” in Asia. 15 years have passed since the policy change – a good opportunity for an interim assessment: where has Thailand positioned itself within the donor community and what has it achieved as a donor? How is Thailand’s donor role seen within the country and by external actors? And how much has Thailand’s development cooperation been affected by international political developments? Answers to these questions are based on recent field research in Thailand and a broader project on the changing nature and dynamics of development cooperation.

Joern Dosch is a professor of International Politics and Development Cooperation at the University of Rostock, Germany. Previous positions include Professor of International Relations and Head of the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Monash University (Malaysia Campus) and Professor of Asia Pacific Studies, University of Leeds. His research focuses on Southeast Asian politics and international relations as well as Europe-Asia relations. He has spent extended periods of time in Southeast Asia since the early 1990s. Joern’s current research projects explore the foreign policies of the individual ASEAN member states and the future of development cooperation in Southeast Asia. Joern also regularly works as a consultant for the European Union’s development programme with Asia and has evaluated several donor-funded programmes and projects in Southeast Asia. His recent publications include The New Global Politics of the Asia Pacific, 3rd rev. edition, Routledge 2018 (with M. Connors and R. Davison) and Malaysia Post-Mahathir. A Decade of Change? Marshall Cavendish 2015 (edited with James Chin).