East Asia's 'Developmentalist' Cooperation and its Discontents
Sanae Ito (Nagoya University)
Paper short abstract:
The rise of emerging East Asian donor countries is encouraging Japan to reposition itself to follow the practice of South-South cooperation, relying on the use of PPPs. The way development cooperation is taking such shape in East Asia is indicative of the region's developmentalist tradition.
Paper long abstract:
This paper examines the changing aid narrative that revives the old ties between foreign aid and national commercial interest in East Asia. Such trends may be unfolding globally, but East Asian donor countries are particularly receptive to this shift due to the historical trajectories of state-centric development experiences. Here emerging donors' South-South cooperation built on the spirit of solidarity combines with East Asia's mercantilist approaches to produce a form of East-South alliance that emphasises mutually beneficial horizontal partnerships and the state's role in promoting trade, investment, and development cooperation as a package. The advent of the SDGs facilitates this trend by recognising the greater role of business in development cooperation. The notion of development is being reframed as inclusive of conventional business activities while business itself is arguably being reframed as an act of development through creating 'shared value'. In this context, the effectiveness of aid is associated with its role as a 'catalyst' in promoting private sector investment by donor countries' domestic industries. The idea of Public Private Partnerships thus takes on a new meaning in that it allows governments to provide risk-sharing mechanisms to private corporations in the form of construction subsidies and/or minimum revenue guarantees. The paper argues that the fact that development cooperation is guided in this way is indicative of the region's developmentalist and state-corporatist approaches. It amounts to a renaissance of a development paradigm that is being recalibrated as East Asian donors find a common ground in 'developmentist' cooperation.
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