Opening Remarks at the ADB/ADBI Book Launch: ASEAN, the PRC and India—The Great Transformation?

Opening Remarks by ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda at the ADB/ADBI Book Launch: ASEAN, the PRC and India—The Great Transformation? Draft Highlights at the 45th Annual Meeting

Distinguished panelists, ladies and gentlemen:

I would like to welcome all of you to this conference as we launch this compilation of stimulating studies by the ADB Institute (ADBI) and ADB.

As literally said in its title, the study—ASEAN, the PRC and India: The Great Transformation?—takes together a key region and two important countries. ASEAN is the hub of Asian regionalism. China is the world’s most populous country and the second largest economy. India is rapidly catching up, and has the second largest population.

Together, they are on a path to significantly improve the quality of life of their citizens. By 2030, China could reach high-income country status, with ASEAN as a whole and India close behind. The three could be home to the world’s leading consumers, producers, savers, investors and financiers.

If they cope with emerging challenges well, the ASEAN-China-India nexus could well drive economic progress and lead to significantly reducing poverty and raising the quality of life—within the countries themselves, and across the Asian as a whole, and even around the world.

As we look forward to the next two decades, the future needs to be measured not in terms of the recent success stories of ASEAN, China and India, but rather in the context of the opportunities and challenges these huge economies face and their ability to address critical issues—individually and collectively.

The next two decades in Asia will be shaped by risks associated with the middle income trap, disparities within and across nations, competition for finite natural resources, environmental degradation and climate change, and rising urbanization, to name a few. We must also meet the challenge of providing good governance and developing strong institutions that can lay the foundations for transparency, accountability and rule of law. To rise to these challenges and turn them into opportunities, effective national policies need to be deployed.

I will leave it to Dean Kawai to outline these challenges and opportunities, and to explain the key policy recommendations the study offers.

Let me conclude my short remarks with brief comments on the importance of regional cooperation.

Regional cooperation and integration are central to the region’s march toward peace and prosperity. Greater cooperation helps protect hard-won economic gains from external vulnerabilities.

Regional cooperation and integration should continuously target the free flow of trade, investment and ideas. Dialogue and knowledge-sharing are essential.

The ASEAN Economic Community targeted for 2015 will create a 700 million strong market to work­­ with China and India in further unifying the region. Many envision an eventual pan-Asian regionalism, with cooperation among ASEAN, China and India playing the central role.

In closing, let me emphasize the significant role and importance of knowledge solutions to the region. ADB’s knowledge departments and ADB Institute are expected to lead in supporting, creating and driving the research behind knowledge products, such as this study. We want to be at the cutting edge of the research our region needs to pursue the so-called “Asian Century.” Going forward, we need creative thinking and strategies. Knowledge solutions are indispensable to reduce poverty and achieve sustained, inclusive, and environmentally sustainable growth.

Now, I would like to give the floor to Dean Kawai.

Thank you.