Appendix 3


Net Flows understate the movements of resources between the developed and developing worlds. They include principal repayments but not interest payments or profit repatriation on direct investments. Net Transfers do include these, however, but they are only published on a global basis, not for individual countries, by the World Bank Annual Report.

My efforts to get the figure for Net Transfers for Britain led me to write to the World Bank, with no initial response. A Parliamentary Written Question was subsequently put on my behalf by Ann Clwyd MP. The result was that the figures are not available. I questioned a representative of the ODA, John Roberts, about this at a conference on aid at Bradford University, and he promised to look into the matter. His subsequent letter, included below, suggested a couple of possibilities for further research. I wrote to the Debt and International Finance Department of the World Bank as he suggested, with no satisfactory response as yet. It would seem that it is not possible, therefore, to get hold of this information. Below are the texts of the Parliamentary Written Questions and responses, and the correspondence with the ODA and the World Bank.

Parliamentary Questions: Debt

Mrs Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth AFfairs if he will will publish a table showing, for the period 1975 to 1990, the total public and private long-term net transfer of financial resources including both principal repayments and interest repayments on public and private debt, between the United Kingdom and all developing countries, with a breakdown of these totals by continent.

Mrs Chalker: Net official and private flows for the years 1975 to 1989, the most recent year for which figures are available, are:


Official Flows

Private Flows





















































The figures are net of principal repayments but not of interest repayments. Data on interest repayments are not available by country.[1]

Correspondence with ODA



7 September 1992

John Roberts


Victoria Street




Dear John Roberts

I am a PhD student at Liverpool University Institute of Latin American Studies researching aspects of British official aid since 1975 and supervised by Dr Walter Little.

I attended the conference on aid organised by Calderdale Third World Group at Bradford University earlier this year, at which you contributed. I asked you a question during the discussion about the non-availability of figures on total public and private long-term net transfers between Britain and the developing world. If you recall, I told you that I had formulated a parliamentary question asking for these figures which was put on my behalf by Ann Clwyd MP (See Hansard, 28 March 1991). The reply was that data on interest repayments were not available by country and therefore only figures on net flows were available.

However, net transfers are available in the World Bank Annual Report on a global basis. You acknowledged at the Bradford conference that data on individual countries must exist in order to be able to calculate the global figure. I wrote to the World Bank for this information but they did not reply. You said you would investigate this on my behalf if I wrote to you. I would therefore be very grateful if you would do so. As you will no doubt appreciate, the Net Flows understate the amount of resources currently extracted from the developing world, and I believe the British public has the right to know the true extent of Britain's involvement in these transfers.

Many thanks

Yours sincerely


Christopher Erswell


Overseas Development Administration

94 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5JL


25 September 1992

C Erswell Esq



Dear Mr Erswell

net transfers to developing countries


I can now follow-up my earlier reply of 23 September to your letter to me of 7 September with a more substantive, but I am afraid not wholly helpful response.

2. You will appreciate that the UK balance of payments information on interest and dividend receipts from other countries which you are seeking is not a matter for which the ODA has responsibility. I have accordingly made enquiries with the Central Statistical Office.

3. The SCO do not publish data on interest receipts by country because information from the banks is not furnished on a country-by-country basis. They do however provide information on profits from foreign direct investment by UK companies. This you can find in the CSO's publication Business Monitor MA4. The CSO does furnish the OECD with estimates of interest receipts disaggregated by country but these are regarded as too unreliable for publication in raw form. Thus, the OECD for example in the DAC Chairman's Annual Report shows figures for interest and dividend payments by all developing countries to all OECD countries, but does not break this figure down to show receipts by individual OECD countries.

4. If you wish to pursue the matter further for research purposes you might try again at the World Bank. The Bank's Debtor Reporting System collects regular information from developing countries about their official and private obligations to individual creditor countries as well as those to multilateral institutions. This is the basis of the data published in the World Debt Tables. I do not know whether the Bank is able to release its detailed data to members of the public, but it might be worth trying. You could address your enquiry to the Division Chief for Debt and International Finance in the International Economics Department.

5. Data from the Debtor Reporting System is not necessarily coincident with figures for creditor sources but, if it is available to you, it would provide you with at least some basis for deriving the information you want.

Yours sincerely


J T Roberts

Aid Economics and Small Enterprise Department

Correspondence with World Bank



10 August 1993

Division Chief for Debt and International Finance

International Economics Department

World Bank

Washington DC






Dear Sir/Madam


I am a research student at the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Liverpool. I am doing research on British official aid policy 1975-90. I have for some time been trying to obtain figures for total public and private long-term net-transfers between Britain and the developing world. The figures for net transfers between all developed and developing countries globally are published in the World Bank Annual Report. I assume therefore that the figures for Britain must be available in order to calculate the global figure. My enquiries at the ODA and in the House of Commons have so far led to nothing (see enclosed correspondence).


Could you please let me know if the figures for Britain are available publicly? If they are I would be very obliged if you would send me a copy of these figures for the years 1975-present. It would also be useful to have a breakdown of net transfers between Britain and the developing world by continent if possible.


Many thanks


Yours sincerely



[Mr] C C Erswell

The World Bank

international bank for reconstruction and development

international development association

1818 H Street N.W.

Washington D.C. 20433



August 24, 1993

Mr. C.C. Erswell





Dear Mr. Erswell,


In reference to your request of August 10 1993 regarding British official aid flows, I regret to inform you that this information is not available to the public. This is because we obtain the information published in the WDT from debtor governments subject to confidentiality limitations.


Notwithstanding, most of the information you require is available in OECD's annual publication "Geographic Distribution of Financial Flows". This document should be available at a local library. If this is not the case, you could contact:


Mrs. Jane Saint-Sernin


2 rue Andre Pascal

Paris France (Phone: 4524-9040)






Manuel Trucco

Debt and International Finance Division

International Economics


28 August 1993

Manuel Trucco

International Economics Department

World Bank

Washington DC




Dear Mr Trucco


Thank you for your letter dated 24 August 1993. I am afraid you misunderstood my request. I was not seeking information on official NET FLOWS which are publicly available in published form, but on NET TRANSFERS which you will no doubt appreciate include principal repayment and interest payments. They are available publicly on a global basis and published in the World Bank Annual Report.


Could you please explain to me why it is that confidentiality does not seem to apply in the case of the global figures on net transfers, but it apparently does apply to the figures on net transfers between Britain and the developing world? Why does the British public (or indeed the international community as a whole) not have a right to know this important statistic? If you yourself feel you cannot answer this question, I would be most obliged if you would pass it on to someone who is in a position to answer this question within your institution.


Many thanks


Yours sincerely




(Mr) C C Erswell

[1]Hansard, 28 March 1991, c499. Written Answers.