7th BIMP-EAGA Summit

Remarks by Haruhiko Kuroda, ADB President, at the 7th BIMP- EAGA Summit, Jakarta, Indonesia

Your Majesty, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am honored to be invited to join the 7th Summit of the BIMP-EAGA Leaders. I wish to thank the Government of Indonesia for the warm hospitality extended to us. I would also like to extend our appreciation for your continued trust of, and cooperation with, ADB.

The subregion has continued its steady progress since we last met in 2009. Despite the effects of the global economic crisis, the BIMP-EAGA has made noteworthy accomplishments under its Roadmap for Development. Stakeholders are committed to moving toward greater prosperity and narrowing development gaps across the region. These goals are especially important as ASEAN becomes a more important driver of the global economy, and as the target of achieving the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 draws closer.

In the next five years, BIMP-EAGA members will need to focus on implementing priority infrastructure projects. With ADB's assistance and co-financing, three of the twelve projects endorsed in 2009 are now in an advanced stage of preparation. These are the Trans-Borneo Power Grid: Sarawak to West Kalimantan Link between Malaysia and Indonesia; the Pontianak-Entikong Transport Link Project in Indonesia; and the Tanjung Selor Border Road Project from Indonesia to Malaysia.

Parallel efforts are also being made to accelerate the construction of the Pandaruan Bridge, which connects Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia, and to upgrade the Mindanao Ports in the Philippines. These developments are a clear signal that BIMP-EAGA is not only living up to its own commitments, but also concretely contributing to the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity and the realization of the AEC.

ADB is committed to working closely with your respective Governments in these endeavors, by providing technical and project coordination assistance and mobilizing financial resources. Last year, ADB approved a technical assistance to help develop public-private partnerships (PPPs). It supports pre-feasibility studies for projects that have the potential to be funded through PPP modality. We hope that BIMP-EAGA members will also be able to draw on the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund, which ASEAN and ADB are working hard to establish this year, to further supplement resources.

To increase the effectiveness of physical connectivity, ADB has been working closely with your respective Governments to put in place trade facilitation measures in key points along the BIMP-EAGA corridors. Under the Phase 1 of our technical assistance, member countries have reached understandings on customs, immigration, quarantine and security measures and procedures in selected pilot sites. Under Phase 2, we will help implement the agreements reached in these sites -- namely, Muara in Brunei Darussalam, Bitung in Indonesia, Sandakan in Malaysia, and General Santos in the Philippines. With increased physical connectivity and trade facilitation, we expect subregional trade to increase accordingly and grow faster, especially in agro- and aqua-products. This will help local economic development and contribute to a more stable food supply in the subregion.

ADB's support to BIMP-EAGA also extends to other important areas, including community-based eco-tourism and the environment. Following your directive to promote BIMP-EAGA as a leading eco-tourism destination, ADB helped develop the Community-Based Eco-Tourism (CBET) Strategy to improve "last mile" access infrastructure. This will facilitate the flow of tourists to economically disadvantaged areas, promote partnerships between the private sector and local communities, and strengthen the joint marketing efforts of member countries. Eight pilot sites have been identified for development as part of the subregional tourist circuit.

With regard to environment, ADB is supporting efforts under the Heart of Borneo Initiative for sustainable forest and biodiversity management. We are also providing assistance to help preserve the coral environment and sustainable management of marine resources under the Coral Triangle Initiative.

As BIMP-EAGA begins a new phase following the end of the Roadmap in 2010, we need to ensure concrete results. At their 15th Meeting in October 2010, ministers agreed to develop, an Implementation Blueprint to cover the period 2012-2016. ADB is pleased to be assisting its elaboration. The Blueprint will focus on detailed and concrete actions, with emphasis on results, and will be key in ensuring the long-term credibility, viability, and sustainability of the BIMP-EAGA program.

Your Majesty, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: Let me conclude by saying that, while the challenges ahead for BIMP-EAGA remain complex, I am confident that its renewed momentum will ensure concrete results and impact, especially for those most in need. Let me assure you that ADB remains steadfast in its commitment to support the Program achieve these impacts in the years ahead.

Thank you.