The Korean government is stepping up its official development assistance support projects in developing countries as part of its bidding efforts to host the World Expo 2030 in Busan.
Official development assistance is a form of government aid designed to promote economic development and welfare in developing countries.
Developing countries account for about two-thirds of the 182 member countries of the Bureau International des Expositions, which are the countries that have the right to vote for the venue of the World Expo. As such, South Korea’s efforts to actively engage in ODA programs might boost the likelihood of a successful expo bid.
The Korean government's ODA budget has increased significantly for 2024. According to the government's 2024 Ministry of Foreign Affairs budget plan, Korea's total ODA budget for next year is set at 6.5 trillion won ($ 4.8 billion), up 2 trillion won from this year, marking the largest-ever increase.
"The Busan Expo will not end as a simple event. The event will be an opportunity to make a foundation of solidarity to solve international agendas together through cooperation for about 30 years,” said Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, who met with reporters in Paris on Oct. 9 after the Busan Expo Symposium to promote Busan’s bid.
Han added that the Korean government plans to double the ODA budget by 2030 compared to 2019, with the goal of cooperating further with developing countries.
Several government agencies have already launched ODA programs. The Korea Rural Community Corporation formed a Korea-Tuvalu Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Team on Oct. 20 and announced that it will kick off a full-fledged ODA project.
Tuvalu, a BIE member state and vote holder for the World Expo, is an island nation located in the South Pacific and has a large tuna fishing industry. The KRC plans to provide teaching programs to local fishers and to offer Korean language education programs to Tuvalu sailors who work on Korean deep-sea fishing vessels. The KRC also plans to promote Korean culture to locals and support the Busan Expo.
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries invited 15 female officials and researchers from Fiji, Ecuador and Ivory Coast to provide training programs to foster female leaders in the marine life resources field in developing countries from Oct. 15-24. Fiji, Ecuador and Ivory Coast are all BIE members.
The Busan city government also hosted ODA programs to showcase the city’s appeal. Twenty-six government officials from eight Latin American countries visited Busan City Hall from Oct. 15 to 24 and participated in a program on Busan's food policies. Busan City also called for their support for its bid for the 2030 World Expo.
The active development of ODA programs attracted the votes of many BIE member states in the previous ballot. Such programs are frequently cited as the key to Japan's successful bid for the Osaka Kansai Expo, which is scheduled to be held in 2025.
According to the BIE, in the late 2010s, the Japanese government provided a total of 190 million euros ($201 million) to more than 100 developing countries to promote Osaka and Kansai as the World Expo venue. Japan also promised to send experts to certain countries to help them develop expo content.