NUKU’ALOFA, TONGA (14 June 2017) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank Group are ready to help Pacific island countries maximize benefits from increased trade and investment across the region.
ADB and the World Bank Group made the announcement as Australia and New Zealand, Cooks Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu today signed the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus. PACER Plus is a trade and development agreement covering goods, services, and investment aimed at boosting economic opportunities in the Pacific region.
“Increased trade, investment, and labor mobility across the Pacific region will strengthen growth, generate opportunities for Pacific island businesses, and create more jobs,” said Xianbin Yao, ADB Director General for the Pacific. “ADB will continue to work closely with Pacific governments, businesses, and people to promote a regulatory environment that encourages local businesses to expand, brings in new investment, and makes the most of opportunities from the new Pacific trade agreement. ADB financing for critical infrastructure — including ports, roads, and airports — will also support inclusive growth, increased exports from the region, and jobs for Pacific islanders.”
“Lower trade costs and deeper regional economic coordination are important components of broader efforts to improve livelihoods in the Pacific, with millions already lifted out of hardship in developing nations across the globe through similar measures,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands. “The real challenge now lies in ensuring that everyone — no matter their age, gender, or where they live — shares equally in the opportunities that result from free trade. We stand ready to assist Pacific island governments and businesses to maximize the opportunities that PACER Plus has the potential to deliver Pacific islanders.”
ADB and the World Bank Group are long-term partners in development in the Pacific. Their support includes helping governments with reforms to strengthen the private sector’s ability to deliver jobs, goods, and services that improve peoples’ lives, and with initiatives to reduce the costs associated with trading across borders.
The World Bank Group works in partnership with 13 countries across the Pacific, with projects currently underway across a range of sectors, including work to encourage more labor mobility opportunities; foster private sector investment; improve literacy rates; and boost access to clean energy and reliable information and communications technology. The World Bank Group’s support to the Pacific Islands region currently totals more than $1.5 billion.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2016, ADB committed a record $850 million of new grants and concessional loans to Pacific island member countries, including $223 million in cofinancing mobilized from development partners. ADB’s total portfolio of active projects in the Pacific region now stands at almost $2.5 billion — four times that of a decade ago. ADB investments are helping Pacific island countries improve ICT connectivity; increase renewable energy; improve land, air, and sea transport; and provide better water and sanitation services.