Denmark to Cut Vietnam Aid in Four Years

After weeks of speculation regarding Denmark’s future aid to Vietnam, the Danish government has now sent a clear signal about their future intensions in the economically booming country. Vietnam is currently one of the biggest receivers of Danish development aid and will continue to be so until the current agreement expires in 2010, the government confirms. But after that, Denmark looks to cut their financial assistance to Vietnam considerably.
     “Our success is driving us out of Vietnam, you could say. All the main figures show how much progress Vietnam is making. The economy is improving, the conditions for the population is improving, more and more children are starting school, all in all Vietnam is a country in such rapid progress that we have decided to down-size our efforts in the country,” the Danish minister of development cooperation, Mrs. Ulla Toernaes stated late last week.
     Vietnam’s development over the last years has been unprecedented. Annual growth-rates of nearly 10 per cent puts the country at the same level as China, and foreign companies are lining up to establish themselves in Vietnam. Most of these companies are situating themselves in and around the big cities, where – as a result – poverty is slowly being reduced. However, the rural areas and areas with ethnic minorities still remain poor and under-developed. Knowing this, Denmark will not completely erase Vietnam from its list of aid-receivers come 2010.
     “Our presence in Vietnam has first and foremost been about fighting poverty. When we now see that it has worked – at least in parts of the society – we are forced to use our resources elsewhere. Of course, we will not leave Vietnam over night, but we will most likely begin to phase out our support, when the current agreement expires in 2010,” says Mrs. Ulla Toernaes.

Help is Needed Elsewhere
The Danish minister has traveled to Vietnam several times and seen the poverty with her own eyes. She admits that it isn’t easy to make decisions about leaving a country where many people still live in poverty.
     “I know that there are many poor people. But we must realize that there are many other places, where the poverty is worse and where we can offer a better help. We must use our resources in the best way possible, and it looks as if they will soon be spent better elsewhere than in Vietnam,” Mrs. Ulla Toernaes says, adding that – without knowing any specific numbers – a considerable part of the 402 million DKK that Denmark currently contributes to Vietnam each year will be spent in Africa following 2010.

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