Statement at the Fourth IMT-GT Leaders' Summit

Speech | 28 February 2009

Statement of Haruhiko Kuroda, ADB President, at Fourth IMT-GT Leaders' Summit, Hua Hin, Thailand

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for asking me to join you at the Fourth IMT-GT Leaders' Summit. It is a privilege for ADB to be engaged in supporting this significant initiative in regional cooperation.

The year 2008 marked 15 years of fruitful collaboration in IMT-GT. Let me congratulate the Governments of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand for the considerable progress that has been achieved during this time towards the shared vision of a seamless, prosperous and peaceful subregion. From its modest beginnings in 1993, the IMT-GT has expanded not only in its geographic coverage, but also in the breadth and depth of its cooperation activities. The continued strong commitment of your governments promises even greater progress in the years ahead.

Despite the considerable progress made, we must recognize that formidable challenges still lie ahead. The Meeting today comes at a crucial time when the world is reeling from the negative fallouts of a global recession, and confronting the uncertainties posed by climate change, food security, and volatile energy prices. In this complex environment, regional cooperation becomes even more important as we seek to pursue joint approaches and pool our resources to cope with difficulties that we all face.

As your principal development partner, ADB will intensify its support to assist IMT-GT in achieving goals laid out in the IMT-GT Roadmap for 2007-2011. In May 2008, ADB allocated $3.8 million to support various technical assistance activities to IMT-GT; a significant increase from the $1.0 million allocated in 2006 at the start of ADB's reengagement with IMT-GT. In response to the requests from the ministers and senior officials, ADB will continue to focus its support on the Connectivity Corridors. With two studies completed in 2008, ADB will undertake the required analytical work for the three connectivity corridors - Ranong-Phuket-Aceh, Penang-Medan, and Melaka-Dumai. At the same time, concrete measures in the areas of trade facilitation, logistics, and automated customs clearance will also commence to enhance sub-regional trade in goods and services to accelerate growth in the participating provinces and states.

ADB recognizes the importance of the private sector in IMT-GT cooperation, and will take a more proactive role in mobilizing resources in support of private sector initiatives. An initial step in this direction took place in December 2008, when ADB and the Joint Business Councils (JBC) discussed the facilities available under its private sector financing window at the 26th meeting of the JBC. Plans are underway to provide a substantive platform later this year for engaging other development partners and private investors in IMT-GT. This reflects our confidence in the potential of the Growth Triangle.

We continue to support and work closely with the Center for IMT-GT Subregional Cooperation (CIMT) as part of our continuing commitment to help build the capacity of IMT-GT institutions. The advanced discussions between IMT members to accord inter-governmental status to CIMT is laudable and sends a strong signal on IMT-GT's resolve to forge stronger cooperation. Facilitating the work of the secretariat, as well as building capacity in the working groups and in the local governments, will be an important priority of ADB in order to strengthen project formulation and implementation capacity as a means to achieve better results.

The IMT-GT Roadmap will undergo a mid-term review this year. We see this as an excellent opportunity to assess both the content and process of our cooperation. As we take stock of what we have achieved and draw lessons from experience, we hope to move forward to a higher plane of cooperation - with much more strategic focus and at an accelerated pace - as we seek to narrow the development divide within and across countries. This will be an important pre-requisite to spreading the benefits of economic integration clearly envisaged in the ASEAN Economic Community of which the IMT will be a part.

Excellencies, the challenges ahead of us remain multifaceted and complex. But I am confident that the spirit of cooperation that has carried us through in the past will continue to inspire us to move ahead. We are heading into a challenging macroeconomic environment in the short term, but should not let that diminish our commitment to IMT-GT cooperation. We would hence like to ask for your strong support for an immediate and substantial capital increase for ADB, to enable us to play a meaningful role in the social and economic development of the region, by fulfilling our strategic direction set out in our Strategy 2020.

I would like to reassure you that ADB will be with you in your journey ahead as a committed development partner. The wealth of opportunities in our subregion inspires us all, and the synergy of cooperation will be our strength.

Thank you very much.