MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Growth in the Asia and Pacific region is strong, but growth alone is not enough for the region to succeed in an era of global change, Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda said in his annual address to the ADB Board of Governors.
"The world is experiencing a fundamental transformation" he said at ADB's 45th Annual Meeting. "Now is the time to push through with greater reforms to support the region's long-term growth."
The ADB President noted that Asia now accounts for about 30% of global output. The process of rebalancing growth is well underway, with domestic demand for Asia's products and services growing faster than external demand. Mr. Kuroda urged the region to continue their cooperative efforts to increase the region's resilience, and to strengthen relationships with other developing regions such as Latin America.
Despite continued growth, developing Asia still faces many challenges. Mr. Kuroda argued that "tomorrow's successful economies will be well-governed economies, with broad access to opportunities and services to promote the wellbeing of their people and enhance their quality of life." He noted that successful economies will be those that reduce energy use, innovate and take risks. They will "focus on transforming themselves through growth that is inclusive, green, and knowledge-led."
This transformation is already taking place to varying extents across the Asia and Pacific region. Mr. Kuroda highlighted investments being made in health, and education and skills development to promote inclusive growth, and infrastructure to expand access to services and opportunities. He also stressed the need for social protection for the elderly given the region's aging populations.
Citing initiatives in clean and renewable energy, sustainable resource management and conservation of critical ecosystems, Mr. Kuroda noted that "Asia is rapidly becoming a global leader in green investments, which are themselves becoming an engine of growth in the region." He emphasized the need to build "livable, inclusive, environmentally sustainable cities" to deal with the challenge of rapid urbanization.
In addition to inclusive, environmentally sustainable growth, developing Asia must embrace knowledge as a key development strategy. To move up the value chain, "Asia needs institutional governance and regulatory frameworks that will foster investment in research and development, protect intellectual property rights, offer incentives for innovations, and stimulate competition," Mr. Kuroda said.
ADB operations continue to grow, at the same time, Mr. Kuroda noted that developing member countries seek not only the institution's financial support, but increasingly its knowledge support as well. "To further increase the value we bring to clients, we will significantly scale up our efforts to create, share and implement knowledge as an integral part of our operations," he said.
While tackling the region's challenges, "we must also embrace Asia's growing role in a transforming world," Mr. Kuroda concluded. "I urge each and every one of us to work together as never before to ensure this global transformation is a harmonious one, resulting in higher and more equitably shared wellbeing among people the world over."