Press Conference Statement by ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda at the 45th Annual Meeting.
Thank you very much for taking your time to meet with me today.As you can see, we already have a great turn-out, with over 4,000 registered participants, including more than 380 from the media. I expect a wide variety of topics will be covered during the meeting, but let me highlight just a few.
As always, the region's economic prospects will be a key focus. As you may be aware, our recently released Asian Development Outlook 2012 suggests that the Asia and Pacific region should be able to maintain its growth momentum despite ongoing troubles elsewhere in the world. The report forecasts a healthy GDP growth of 6.9% for developing Asia and the Pacific in 2012, and 7.3% in 2013.
However, the region still faces significant long-term challenges. High among these is the issue of rising inequality. Unfortunately, while the region has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty, the benefits of growth have yet to reach several hundreds of millions of Asians who continue to struggle on less than $1.25 a day. The very drivers of Asia's economic success, for instance, new technology, globalization and market-oriented reforms – have also served to create and increase disparities within and among Asian countries.
While these economic trends cannot and should not be reversed, it is critical that they be counterbalanced by policies that will make growth in the region more inclusive. Such policies would include investment in education to reduce inequality in human capital, investment in infrastructure to reduce unequal access to services and opportunities, and measures to make growth more environmentally friendly.
So, inclusive growth will be another key focus of this year's Annual Meeting. In fact, the host government has chosen “inclusive growth through better governance and partnerships” as the theme for the meeting. This reflects the host government's current efforts to reform governance and the business environment in the Philippines.
Finally, I am very pleased to announce that we have secured a replenishment of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) 7.9 billion, or $12.4 billion, for the Asian Development Fund (ADF XI), which is ADB's concessional window for the region's poorest countries. ADF borrowers face significant development challenges, and have fewer resources of their own to address them. We particularly appreciate the strong support and generosity of our donor countries in view of the difficult challenges many are facing at home themselves. The replenished ADF will help borrowing countries promote inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth through investment in infrastructure, education, social safety nets, and clean and renewable energy, among others.
Of course, there are many more topics I could cover, but time does not permit. So let me stop here and open the floor. I welcome your questions and comments. Thank you.