Indonesian and Philippine engagement in South-South and Triangular Cooperation

Question

How do middle-income aid recipients like Indonesia and the Philippines engage in South-South and triangular cooperation?

Summary

Both Indonesia and the Philippines provide considerable assistance to other developing countries, typically capacity building and sharing expertise about a range of development themes from agriculture and rural development to ICT, microfinance, education, health and welfare, amongst others.

While most cooperation occurs at a regional Asia-Pacific level, Indonesia and the Philippines have also engaged in South-South and triangular programmes with African countries. Indonesia is also building links with other big middle-income countries such as Brazil.

South-South cooperation occurs at various levels – between national governments and ministries, at universities, and between civil society organisations.

Both countries are active in triangular cooperation. Indonesia has traditionally partnered with Japan to provide cooperation to a range of countries in Asia and Africa. Recently, however, Indonesia and Brazil have forged closer links and are keen to share their experience with other Southern countries through TDC. Indonesia has also been supported by multilateral organisations, such as the OECD and UN ESCAP. The evidence available suggests that the most common type of Indonesian TDC involves training and capacity building around the theme of agriculture and rural development, with other projects on health, microfinance and ICT.

The Philippines has been a beneficiary of triangular cooperation on agriculture from Indonesia and Japan. It has also partnered with Japan to provide support, for example on agriculture and rural development to Cambodia, on public-private partnerships to Vietnam, and on education to Kenya.

Lack of up-to-date data makes it difficult to accurately assess how significant Indonesia and the Philippines are as providers of development cooperation in the region. Clearly China, South Korea and India are the major regional players, followed by Taiwan, Thailand, and Malaysia. A recent ESOSOC (2008) study of 18 developing countries providing ODA did not include Indonesia and the Philippines, as it was believed they were not providing ‘significant’ amounts of ODA at the time.

At present, South-South and triangular cooperation in Indonesia and the Philippines appears to be largely complementary to traditional aid programs. However, there is evidence that China, South Korea and India are emerging as key donors to the Philippines, causing some concern among traditional bilateral and multilateral donors about the growing influence and lack of transparency of China in particular.