UK foreign aid reforms seek to curb 'malign actors'

New International Development Strategy will spend more on country and bilateral programmes

The revamped aid strategy provides the UK with the chance to flaunt its global credentials. EPA
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The UK on Monday announced reforms to its foreign aid budget designed to foster economic growth and offer a route away from "malign actors" by instead dealing directly with countries.

Since leaving the European Union, the British government has sought to give the country a globalist rebrand under the "Global Britain" soubriquet. However, it has failed to live up to that tag.

In 2021, the UN called Britain's decision to slash its foreign aid budget a "failure of kindness and compassion".

The UK's trade performance has not contributed to its global credit either.

Exports from Germany and Italy returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, and other nations are expected to do so this year. By contrast, UK exports have been forecast to recover in 2023, according to research from Paris-based trade credit insurer, Euler Hermes.

Lagging economically, the revamped aid strategy provides the UK with the chance to flaunt its international credentials and expand its influence among countries in the Indo-Pacific region to try to moderate China's global dominance.

The new International Development Strategy will help address global challenges; deliver investment; support women and girls; send humanitarian assistance to those who need it most; and continue work on climate change, the UK government said.

"In an increasingly geopolitical world, we must use development as a key part of our foreign policy," UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

"Malign actors treat economics and development as a means of control, using patronage, investment and debt as a form of economic coercion and political power.

"We won't mirror their malign tactics, but we will match them in our resolve to provide an alternative," she said, without naming any country or group.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wants the UK aid to circumscribe 'malign actors' on the international stage. EPA

The UK government will spend more on country and bilateral programmes, it said, reducing the amount channelled through multilateral organisations.

By 2025, the foreign office intends to spend three quarters of its aid budget bilaterally. It also intends to cut red tape and bureaucracy by giving diplomats greater authority to ensure programmes are delivered quickly.

"The new strategy, launched today, will ensure that our international development work brings benefit across the globe and here at home," Ms Truss said.

"Our strategy will deepen economic, security and development ties globally, while delivering jobs and growth in both the UK and partner countries."

Updated: May 16, 2022, 2:40 PM
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