Remarks by ADB Vice-President Stephen P. Groff at the 10th BIMP-EAGA Summit at Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on 11 May 2014
Your Majesty, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am truly honored to join the 10th BIMP-EAGA Summit here in Nay Pyi Taw. On behalf of the Asian Development Bank, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Government and people of Myanmar for their warm hospitality, and to the Government of Indonesia for the excellent arrangements for this meeting.
2014 is an important year as we approach a milestone in establishing the ASEAN Community in 2015. Indeed, with your guidance and the collective commitment and determination of the community of ASEAN states, significant progress has been made in integrating the economies of the region. BIMP-EAGA is increasingly showing potential to act as an important building block for ASEAN, particularly following its results-focused cooperation initiatives in recent years.
Accomplishments and Way Forward
On behalf of ADB, I would like to commend BIMP-EAGA’s accomplishments under the Implementation Blueprint’s four strategic pillars, and its valuable contributions in advancing regional integration. With the objective of promoting synergies between BIMP-EAGA and ASEAN, ADB completed a study that identifies specific initiatives to align BIMP-EAGA priorities and projects with the goals of the ASEAN Community.
Enhancing connectivity continues to be a priority in the subregion, given the challenges of its largely archipelagic geography. Remarkable progress has been achieved under this pillar. The Implementation Blueprint 2012-2016 identified a $1.1 billion pipeline of connectivity projects, many of which are now moving forward. To help build a stronger transportation network within the subregion, ADB is providing technical and financial support. In Indonesia, national road programs in Kalimantan are underway that will enhance connectivity with Malaysia under the West Borneo Economic Corridor. In the Philippines, we are supporting the upgrade of strategic roads in Mindanao that will improve access to key ports, thereby linking Mindanao and the rest of BIMP-EAGA under the Greater Sulu Sulawesi Corridor. With the expansion of ports in the subregion, and continuing road improvements in Brunei and Malaysia, a more extensive subregional multimodal transport network will stimulate increased cross border flows of goods and people, invigorate subregional value chains, and attract more private sector investment to BIMP-EAGA. ADB is also helping to improve the capacities of Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) officials to enhance trade facilitation efforts under the ASEAN single window.
The power sector is also demonstrating signs of progress. Construction of the Trans Borneo Grid interconnection between Sarawak and Kalimantan has commenced, and is envisaged to become operational next year. ADB is planning to approve a non-sovereign loan to Malaysia that will expand our support to this project.
We also plan to undertake a scoping study to determine the pre-feasibility of a new proposed power project interconnecting Borneo and Mindanao.
While many gains have been made, the subregion continues to face significant challenges. Climate change has become a constant threat to forest and marine ecosystems. ADB will support an assessment of BIMP-EAGA’s vulnerabilities to climate change in order to determine potential impacts on livelihoods, productivity and competitiveness, and to identify actions to improve the resilience of local communities to climate change.
BIMP-EAGA’s private sector primarily consists of small and medium-sized enterprises, and is growing, but remains fragile. Local governments that benefit the most from cross border trade, tourism and investment need to further improve the enabling environment for private sector investment. BIMP-EAGA provides an important forum to promote dialogue and cooperation between local governments and the private sector. ADB will seek to further strengthen the capacities of local governments to enhance their participation in BIMP-EAGA.
Amongst the many challenges facing the subregion, one of the most imperative is narrowing the development gap and making further inroads to alleviate poverty, which remains considerable in many parts of the subregion. ADB lauds BIMP-EAGA’s work to adopt community-based ecotourism development as one of the anchors for poverty reduction, and we are committed to supporting this effort through capacity building support for the participating communities.
Your Majesty, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, ADB firmly believes that BIMP-EAGA will continue to serve as an important building block for further political, social and economic integration of the ASEAN region. Moving forward, BIMP-EAGA will require a broader support framework, and committed human and financial resources at the subregional, national and local levels. ADB remains confident that BIMP-EAGA will realize its full potential under your leadership.
Let me thank you for your continued trust in ADB as your Regional Development Advisor. We will continue to provide strategic support to strengthen subregional cooperation and economic integration in BIMP-EAGA.