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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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  • "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.
  • Over the past decade most nations sharing the Mekong river have enjoyed a period of unprecedented growth and plummeting poverty rates. While the majority of the Mekong countries produce a proportionately small share of global greenhouse gas emissions, their growth has been largely fuelled by carbon-based energy, and as they continue to grow, so too will their carbon output.
  • The adage used to be that when the US sneezed, Asia caught a cold. These days, some people are saying that when the US catches a cold, Asia merely sneezes. Or, in other words, they say the Asian economy is decoupling from the US. In actual fact, in an increasingly globalised economy, it matters little who sneezes or who catches the cold. It is about formulating the right medicine - the right policy mix - to stay healthy and avoid a germ becoming a systemic infection.
  • Rapid, sustainable growth remains the best weapon to combat poverty and merge the two faces of Asia. Asia's economic success has caught global attention. It is a journey that began with Japan emerging as an industrialised nation, followed by ascension of Asia's "Newly Industrialised Economies" (NIEs), and more recently the emergence of new economic powerhouses - the People's Republic of China (PRC) and India.
  • In many respects the countries of Southeast Asia cooperate with each other quite well on matters of importance. There are still territorial disputes, problems over the illegal migration and the trade of controlled substances, and what to do with Myanmar, but certainly compared to a few decades ago, the countries of Southeast Asia have found ways to work together. One reward has been an expansion of trade and travel in the region.
  • We may be at the "make-or-break" moment for global free trade. Although bilateral trade deals are becoming more common, consensus on the multilateral Doha Round is still elusive. Many leaders have called for progress on Doha, but rallying political support at home for dramatic trade liberalization is always challenging. So at this critical juncture, it is most important that we continue to give special attention to those economies that can actually benefit most from the Doha Round -- the least developed countries and smaller states.