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Op-eds and Opinion

ADB management and subject experts share knowledge, views, and insights on development issues in op-ed articles and opinion pieces published in international and regional publications.

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  • ON THE PENINSULA WHICH TAKES ITS NAME, the Mekong River is its most evocative icon. Aeons ago, before national boundaries snaked across the Mekong Basin, a multitude of ethnic groups formed a rich human tapestry across this ancient land. Over time, kingdoms arose. Then, colonial powers arrived and, when they left, civil strife took hold in their wake. So it was that only 20 years ago, the region was still home to some conflict, it was considerably closed to the world beyond, and had a large proportion of its population mired in poverty.
  • In the middle of this financial crisis there is a debate taking place over whether governments can afford both massive tax-funded spending programmes needed to revive ailing economies, and the emissions cuts that are needed to combat climate change. Few regions on Earth throw this tension into sharper contrast than south-east Asia, where many nations are highly vulnerable to the effects of global warming while also having the chance to develop low-carbon economies.
  • This week's agreement by the Asian Development Bank board of governors to triple the bank's resource base is timely, welcome and crucial. Amid the global financial crisis, the bank is a source of predictable and affordable financing that can leverage substantial funds for investment in economic growth and poverty reduction.
  • Hundreds of islands in Indonesia and the Philippines, large swaths of VietNam's Mekong Delta, and great portions of Thailand and Singapore's sovereign territory are all under imminent threat. Why, then, the deafening silence? Why no call for urgent action? Perhaps it is because the foe is not a sovereign state, but climate change. With the world confronting the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, it is understandable that countries are fixated on short-term measures to stabilize their economies.
  • Today's global economic crisis is the worst since the Great Depression. And developing-Asia is being hit much harder than initially thought. It is now time-in fact it is an opportunity-to rebalance our recent rapid economic growth to help protect us from future external shocks and to strengthen our internal sources of growth. Average growth in the region declined about three percentage points last year - to 6.3 percent. Our 2009 Asian Development Outlook now forecasts that growth will slow this year again by close to 3 percentage points - to 3.4 percent.
  • "The matter with the poor is poverty", said George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright born 11 years after the 1845 potato famine that killed 1 million of his countrymen. Shaw knew that to be poor is not necessarily a prescription for a miserable existence. Poverty, on the other hand, can kill you.
  • Policymakers, private-sector leaders, researchers and civil society organisations are gathered this week in Singapore for the World Cities Summit and the International Water Week. One key issue they will discuss is how we can improve the environmental infrastructure of cities.
  • The next time your trade minister announces that a "free trade deal" has been signed, we suggest you be wary. First, the deal will likely be a "preferential" one, meaning it will discriminate against nonmember countries. Second, the deal will likely exclude a range of sensitive items. How often, for example, has sugar been included in United States' trade deals or rice in Japan's? Third, the deal will be a gold mine for lobbyists and lawyers, and it will create a lot of employment for the bureaucrats who implement it.
  • Rising food prices and dwindling global stocks have put many governments in developing Asia and the Pacific under enormous pressure to put food on the table of the most vulnerable and poor in their countries. Over a billion people in the region are seriously affected by the food price surge, as food expenditure accounts for 60% of the average total expenditure basket. Food and energy together account for more than 75% of total spending of the poor in the region.
  • Economic regionalism is starting to take root in East Asia. For the past 25 years, rapid expansion in trade -- both to developed markets outside the region and increasingly within East Asia itself -- is accelerating the process toward economic integration. Trade helps drive investment, both foreign and domestic, which in turn helps stimulate trade. Foreign direct investment, in particular, brings with it external funding, better production technology and management know-how, and efficient distribution channels linked with outside markets.

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