US think tank: Swedish foreign aid ‘best in the world’

Sweden’s foreign assistance programme has been given top marks by an influential American think tank.

“The Swedish foreign aid programme is the best in the world in terms of quantity, weighted for country size, as well as its quality,” said a report by the Centre for Global Development (CGD), a Washington, DC-based think tank which compiles an annual ranking of rich countries’ commitment to development assistance.

In the 2008 rankings, which were released on Friday, Sweden had the highest ranked foreign assistance programme of any of the 22 wealthy countries included in CGD’s annual Commitment to Development Index.

The index is based on a country’s rankings in seven categories: Aid, Trade, Investment, Migration, Security, Environment, and Technology

Sweden’s top Aid score, combined with above average rankings in several other categories, put it in second place in the overall index, just behind the Netherlands and tied with Norway, in terms of overall commitment to development.

Scandinavian neighbour Denmark landed in fourth place, while Finland was tied for seventh place along with Austria, Australia, and New Zealand.

Sweden’s high score of 13.0 for its foreign aid was also the highest score received by any country in any category.

Sweden also received high scores in the Migration category, being cited for bearing a “large share of the burden of refugees during humanitarian crises” and for accepting a large number of immigrants from developing countries.

In the categories of Investment and Trade, which look at a country’s policies to support investment and developing countries and foreign trade barriers, respectively, Sweden also received above average scores.

However, CGD added that Sweden could improve its score by reducing subsidies to domestic agriculture and doing more to allow domestic investors to take advantage of tax incentives in developing countries.

The study also cited Sweden for not having completed an assessment of legislation related to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

In assessing Sweden’s ranking in the category of Security, CGD praised Sweden’s contributions to international peacekeeping missions, while at the same time pointing out the country could do more to reduce arms exports to poor and undemocratic governments.