Australia—Commitment to Development Index

The Commitment to Development Index ranks 27 of the world’s richest countries on policies that affect people living in poorer nations. This is the country report for Australia. For results of all countries, visit the main CDI page.

Overall

Australia ranks 18th on the Commitment to Development Index, performing strongest on trade, migration, and finance.
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Aid

Australia ranks slightly below average on the aid component. In 2016, Australia provided 0.25% of its GNI for development assistance. This is below the international commitment of 0.7% GNI. It is also its smallest contribution in the past ten years. Australia’s foreign aid is of good quality, however, putting it in the top 5 of our QuODA (Quality of ODA) ranking. This is mainly because of its transparency, its low share of untied aid, and its low administrative unit cost. Australia could improve its aid quality by providing greater support for partners with good monitoring and evaluation frameworks and by increasing its aid to countries where Australia has a revealed comparative advantage.
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Finance

Australia has a very good ranking on the finance component, with average or above performance across all indicators. Australia is rewarded for the sustainability and the development-friendly design of its international investment agreements, where it ranks 4th. It also performs above average in its institutional commitments, being rewarded for good compliance with the OECD anti-bribery convention. Besides, Australia is a member of all institutional frameworks that are part of the policy inputs indicator. Australia has improved its score on the Financial Secrecy Index, for which it is rewarded in the CDI. It has put in place important measures to fight tax evasion and tax avoidance.
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Technology

As in the previous year, Australia’s performance in the technology sector is below average. Its current 18th position is mainly due to relatively low government support for research and development and inadequate provision of incentives for business R&D. In 2016, the Australian government provided only 0.41% of its GDP to research and development (weighted) and had relatively low incentives for business R&D. Still, Australia provides high governmental support to R&D through general university funds (GUFs) and supports R&D in health, agriculture, and energy with a substantial amount. Australia also plays a leading role in the diffusion of technology to developing countries. It is rewarded with the third best score on the intellectual property rights (IPR) indicator, mainly for its facilitation of knowledge sharing through weak database protection rights and rights loss provisions. Australia could do even more for developing countries by easing its stringent patent rights.
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Environment

Environment is one of Australia’s weaker policy fields on the CDI. Its position at the low end of the table (rank 26) is due to its very low gasoline taxes; only the United States and Canada have lower. Australia also has the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita and is the third most important tropical timber importer, behind Japan and South Korea. It scores well on the institutional level by ratifying the Paris agreement and the UN fisheries agreement. If Australia would commit even more firmly to the different biodiversity treaties and their obligations, it could improve its score further.
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Trade

As in previous years, Australia ranks in the top 10 on trade, ranking 8th in this edition. Australia is a CDI leader in providing equal access for agricultural products from developing countries, as it has the second lowest agricultural subsidy rate of all 27 evaluated countries (after New Zealand). Its barriers to trade in services are also low (scoring 9th). Australia could promote free trade with developing countries further by imposing fewer impediments to imports. It could facilitate trading across borders by reducing the number of required documents and the costs of importing.
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Security

Apart from its arms exports, Australia has average to good policies on security. It is party to all nine international security agreements taken into account in the CDI. Australia also contributes to international peacekeeping efforts, both financially and with personnel, and is active in patrolling global sea lanes. Due to its arms industry’s lack of transparency, however (no data are published), Australia is penalized with a low score on this indicator, resulting in its ranking 17th on the security component.
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Migration

Australia ranks 10th on migration policies. This is slightly lower than in previous years, reflecting the fact that while Australia’s migration policies are still of good quality, it has been overtaken by more generous and open CDI countries. The top 10 position is partly due to Australia’s exceptionally open borders for students from developing countries (with the best score of all the CDI countries). Its integration policies are also among the best of all the CDI countries. Australia has room for improvement, however, in the number of refugees and asylum seekers it accepts. Australia could be more generous while processing asylum applications; the number of positive asylum decisions as a ratio of all decisions made is below average. Also, it could improve its commitment to migrants by ratifying the Convention on the Treatment of Migrant Workers and the Migration for Employment Convention.
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