TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN - Asia has made a quick turnaround from the global economic crisis but the region still faces many challenges and must ensure that future growth is inclusive and environmentally sustainable, Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda said today.
Speaking at a news conference at ADB's 43rd Annual Meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Mr. Kuroda told reporters that ADB provided substantial support to its developing member countries during the crisis, and ADB's operation increased to $16.1 billion in 2009, 42% higher than the previous year.
"These efforts helped developing member countries sustain critical development expenditures in health, education and infrastructure, among others, and helped accelerate the region's recovery," he said.
But despite the region's recent economic turnaround, Asia and the Pacific still face large economic, social, and environmental challenges.
The Annual Meeting runs from 1 - 4 May and will focus on the region's recovery and postcrisis development agenda. Finance ministers, senior government officials, business leaders, academics, media and members of international organizations and civil society, are among 3,000 participants attending the meeting.
"Far too many of the region's people remain poor and without access to essential public services and economic opportunities," Mr. Kuroda said. "We estimate that more than 70 million people in the region would have escaped $2 a day poverty in 2009, if growth rates had stayed at 2007 levels."
Mr. Kuroda said Asian leaders must carefully time their exit strategies to unwind emergency fiscal and monetary policy measures adopted during the global crisis.
They must also ensure social safety nets are in place to cushion the impact on the poor of any future economic shocks, and step up their responses to serious environmental challenges, including climate change.
Mr. Kuroda stressed the importance of expanding cooperation and deepening economic integration. "This will make the region overall more resilient, while providing benefits for economies at all levels of development," he said.
Mr. Kuroda also announced the launch of a new ADB publication, "A Resilient Asia Amidst Global Crisis." "Based on papers and discussions by policy makers and experts from around Asia, the book provides incisive analyses of origins of the crisis, and will be a valuable resource to all of us," he said.