MANY confusing claims and counter-claims are made about the amount of development aid provided by rich countries to poor ones. Non–governmental organisations working in the Third World, such as Oxfam, often challenge optimistic official figures. So it is useful that the Centre for Global Development, an independent Washington–based thinktank produces an annual league table of the performance of 21 rich countries. This table, known as the Commitment to Development Index, covers seven policy areas relevant to development in poor nations, including aid, trade, investment and migration issues. The first four places in the latest Index are taken by the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway in that order, each scoring more than six out of ten possible points. Britain, Ireland and the United States are in 12th, 13th and 14th places with scores of 5.1 and 5. Britan's record is disappointing, especially in a year in which it supposedly took the lead in debt relief and growth of development aid at the G8 Summit meeting at Gleneagles. The United States commits the largest amount in absolute terms to Third World development but in relation to th size of its economy its contribution is the smallest among the 21 nations surveyed in this study. The target of 0.7 per cent of GDP for development aid, established by the UN more than 20 years ago, has still not been met by any nation although the European Union has now set 2013 as the date by which EU countries should achieve it.


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