Although military aid continues to be provided, largely on a grant basis, economic development aid is provided increasingly as loans through the Agency for International Development and the Export-Import Bank, which finances the export of U.S. capital goods and agricultural products. A large proportion of U.S. aid goes to Israel, Egypt, and developing countries. In 2000, U.S. foreign aid amounted to $10 billion (less than 0.6% of the federal budget); the share of the gross domestic product (GDP) for foreign aid dropped from 2.75% in 1949 to 0.1% in 2000. In 2004 the United States began the Millennium Challenge aid program, which is intended to target aid toward poorer nations with good governance and open economies; the program places fewer restrictions on how participating nations use the aid.
Many nations in Europe and some in the Middle East and E Asia also have significant aid programs; in the mid and late 1990s, Japan was the world's largest foreign aid donor, followed by United States, France, and Germany. Great Britain, generally on a smaller scale, has provided aid to former colonies. Beginning in 2001, the United States passed Japan as the world's largest donor as a result of Japanese cutbacks in foreign aid. About 15% of foreign aid is provided by international bodies. These include the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and its affiliates, the International Development Association, and the International Finance Corporation; regional development banks; the European Development Fund; the UN Development Program; and specialized agencies of the United Nations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.