Well, he didn’t quite say that in so many words. Bill and Melinda Gates are right, though, that poor countries are not doomed to remain poor. Poor people are not destined to remain poor.
They have cited a number of poor countries that no longer need foreign aid: Turkey, Botswana, Mexico, Brazil, China, Chile and Malaysia among others. Gates is quite certain that many more will move out of poverty.
Whether one thinks that foreign aid is efficacious in reducing poverty – and I’m skeptical – the implications of Gates’ findings are clear. The total amount of aid required from the world’s donor countries will shrink over time. As countries move away from poverty, the aid tap can be slowly closed.
Countries should start planning to wind back their aid budgets. By 2035 there should be no more need for foreign aid except in a few States such as North Korea.
This is the key implication behind the Gates letter. Whether or not foreign aid has been an important or marginal contributor to a major reduction in world poverty over the past 50 years, no one can really hold that it should continue in the absence of world poverty.