ADB's Thailand Resident Mission Inaugurated to Herald New Era of Partnership

BANGKOK, THAILAND - The inauguration of ADB's new Resident Mission in Thailand marks a new chapter in ADB's long-standing partnership with the country, ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said today at a ceremony jointly held with Minister of Finance Thanong Bidaya in Bangkok.

The resident mission, headed by Country Director J.P. Verbiest, will further enhance ADB's presence in Thailand and help strengthen its operational activities in the region, Mr. Kuroda said.

"Today's inauguration of ADB's Resident Mission in Bangkok stands as a testament to our commitment to work closely with Thailand as it moves into a new era of development," Mr. Kuroda said.

He pointed out that Thailand's achievements during the last four decades have been "extraordinary" - its emergence as a middle income country reflecting its solid standing in the region, and in the global economy.

Measures of this are Thailand's progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are all expected to be achieved ahead of the 2015 deadline, and its emergence as a regional donor.

Thailand became a donor of ADB in 1997 during the 6th replenishment of the Asian Development Fund (ADF VII), ADB's window for concessional lending, and contributed a total of more than $8 million for ADF VII to ADF IX.

Thailand has also been playing an important role in fostering regional and subregional cooperation initiatives, including the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) regional cooperation program, and in providing financial and technical assistance for its neighboring countries.

"In light of its progress, the development challenges facing Thailand have changed dramatically," Mr. Kuroda added. "As a consequence, its needs and expectations for assistance from international financial institutions, such as ADB, are also radically different than in the past."

He said that ADB must keep pace with such changes. "We are determined to offer a competitive source of long-term financing, with minimal transaction costs and maximum efficiency and flexibility," he said. "We are also committed to mobilizing investments from the private sector so as to maintain the momentum of growth."

To date ADB has provided Thailand with 84 loans totaling $5.4 billion in various sectors including energy, transport and communications, social infrastructure, agriculture and natural resources and finance. More recently, ADB and Thailand have been collaborating on developing the country's domestic capital market and bond market. In May this year, ADB issued its debut Thai baht bonds in the country's domestic capital market, with a principal amount of B4 billion and a bullet maturity of five years.

ADB has also approved this year a total of $2 million in grant assistance for a comprehensive development plan of the regions of Thailand badly hit by the tsunami disaster of December 2004.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Kuroda spoke in Bangkok at a microfinance conference hosted by the Government Savings Bank as well as the 31st ASEAN-Japan Business Meeting.