France leads the way in technology transfer to developing countries

France has come out on top following a survey on the technology assistance provided by industrialised nations to developing countries.

The Commitment to Development Index is produced annually by the US think-tank the Center for Global Development (CGD). It analyses seven policy areas: environment, aid, trade, investment,
migration, security and technology.

The CGD points out that richer countries can have considerable impact on developing countries in the long run through their transfer of technologies. For evidence of this one must only look at
human health and life expectancy in Latin America and East Asia. During the last four decades of the 20th Century these two regions made the sort of improvements that Europe made over some 150
years, according to the CGD.

The index rewards policies that support the creation and dissemination of innovations of value to developing countries. Points are awarded for government subsidies for research and development
(R&D). Spending on military R&D is discounted by half, the argument being: ‘On the one hand, much military R&D does more to improve the destructive capacity of rich countries than
the productive capacity of poor ones. On the other, military security is important for development, and military R&D can have civilian spin-offs.’

Policies on intellectual property rights (IPR) are also taken into account. Some laws can inhibit the transfer of technology and innovations. ‘These take the form of patent laws that arguably
go too far in advancing the interests of those who produce innovations at the expense of those who use them,’ states the CGD.

In some countries, the patenting of plant and animal varieties is permissible. In such a situation, a company could develop a crop variety that thrives, for example, in tropical soils. That
company could then patent the technology and opt not to sell it to those who need it most as they have limited purchasing power.

France scores highest overall, followed by Canada and then Japan. The US loses points for pushing for compulsory licensing bans, and the Europeans drop points for allowing the copyrighting of
databases that contain data collated with public funds.

After France, Finland performs best out of the EU Member States surveyed, followed by Spain, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Portugal.

The Netherlands is ranked highest in the overall index on account of its large aid donations, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support for investment in developing countries.

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