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Colombo Plan,international economic organization created in a cooperative attempt to strengthen the economic and social development of the nations of Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Officially the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in Asia and the Pacific, it came into force in 1951 as the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in South and Southeast Asia. There are 24 members and one provisional member, Mongolia. The original formulators of the plan were a group of seven Commonwealth nations; presently Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States are the largest donors. Assistance is given in the form of educational and health aid, training programs, loans, food supplies, equipment, and technical aid; arrangements for assistance are made directly between a donor and a recipient country. Originally conceived as lasting for a period of six years, the Colombo Plan was extended several times until 1980, when it was extended indefinitely. The organization's headquarters are in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
(Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in South and Southeast Asia), a plan affecting South and Southeast Asia. Initiated by the British government to strengthen its influence in the area after its position had been undermined as a result of World War II. At the same time the plan was intended to weaken the national liberation movement in that part of Asia.
The Colombo Plan was first discussed at a conference of the British Commonwealth in Colombo, Ceylon, in January 1950. The conference set up the Consultative Committee, which included representatives of Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, and the former English colonies of Malaya and North Borneo. At its first session (Sydney, Australia; May 1950), the member nations of the committee agreed to work out six-year economic development programs, to start on July 1, 1951. At the London session of the Consultative Committee in September 1950, these programs were approved under the overall name of the Colombo Plan. In 1955 the members extended the plan until July 1, 1961, and they have subsequently continued to renew it. By the start of 1975, 27 nations were members of the Colombo Plan, including six creditor nations (Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States) and 21 recipient nations.
Under the Colombo Plan, individual development programs were implemented basically under the control of Great Britain and the United States. An important part of the programs consisted of military strategic projects (such as airfields and roads). Because the plan was designed to strengthen the position of the imperialist states, it did not resolve any essential problems confronting the young Asian nations, whose peoples were striving to achieve an independent course of economic and social development. The supreme body implementing the Colombo Plan is the Consultative Committee. The Council for Technical Cooperation, located in Colombo, is responsible to the committee; the executive body of the council is the bureau.