Australia's top aid recipients: A (re)pivot to the Pacific

By Lorenzo Piccio 15 May 2015

A child holds the flags of Papua New Guinea and Australia. The country is one of the leading Australian aid recipients in the Pacific. Photo by: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / CC BY

In June of last year, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop pledged that Canberra’s massively downsized foreign aid program would now become more tightly focused on the Indo-Pacific — a key commitment of the Abbott government’s aid policy framework called the “new aid paradigm.” A vast region of strategic importance to Australia, the Indo-Pacific is generally understood to include South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific.

The Abbott government’s latest budget, unveiled Tuesday, directs 93 percent of Australian official development assistance for bilateral and regional programs in 2015-16 to the Indo-Pacific, just above Bishop’s 90 percent target. The Australian fiscal year begins July 1.

It’s worth noting that the Indo-Pacific has long-garnered the vast majority of Australian aid spending, albeit slightly more so now that the Abbott government has reversed course on the previous Labor government’s donor ambitions in Africa and Latin America.

Deeper analysis of Australia’s 2015-16 foreign aid budget, the first since the Abbott government unveiled its aid policy framework, reveals a subtle but far more decisive shift in Australian aid dollars to just one part of the Indo-Pacific, the Pacific region.

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About the author

Lorenzo Piccio@lorenzopiccio

Lorenzo is a contributing analyst for Devex. Previously Devex's senior analyst for development finance in Manila, he is currently an MA candidate in international economics and international development at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. Lorenzo holds a bachelor's degree in government and social studies from Wesleyan University.

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