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[Herald Interview] Korea can help bridge development gap: ADB

Bindu N. Lohani, vice president of the Asian Development Bank. ( ADB)
Bindu N. Lohani, vice president of the Asian Development Bank. ( ADB)
ASTANA, Kazakhstan ― Asia has served as the world’s main growth engine since the global financial crisis in 2008. However, many countries in the region still suffer from extreme poverty.

‘‘Poverty still remains a fundamental and critical challenge ... (that lies) ahead (for) the region,” a top official from the Asian Development Bank said.

The data from the Asian Development Bank found that more than 700 million Asians still live in extreme poverty and the more than 1.6 billion who live on less than $2 a day remain “highly vulnerable” to shocks, such as inflation, crop failure and environmental dangers.

“This is unacceptable in a region with such huge economic potential,” Bindu N. Lohani, ADB vice president for knowledge management and sustainable development, said in an interview with The Korea Herald. The interview took place on May 2, the opening day of the ADB’s annual meeting of governors in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The ADB vice president believes that Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, can play a more significant role in bridging development disparity in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Korea transformed itself from a poor agrarian society to a modern industrial nation in a single generation,” he said.

‘‘Sharing this experience and knowledge with developing Asian economies is extremely valuable.”

The issue will be discussed during the ADB’s annual meeting, he added. About 3,000 finance ministers, central bank governors, business leaders and scholars in the region are participating in the event.

According to Lohani, one of the main issues at the 2014 meeting will be the midterm review of the ADB’s Strategy 2020, a set of long-term action plans aimed at eliminating poverty in Asia. It was launched in 2008.

The ADB said in its recent report that cofinancing, private sector development and partnerships are key to bridging this development gap.

It estimates Asia needs to invest about $8 trillion in national infrastructure between 2010 and 2020 to achieve its full development potential.

“Governments can’t meet these needs alone. Private sector participation is necessary not only to supplement public finance, but also to contribute innovation and improve productivity,” he said.

He pointed out that Korea, along with Japan and China, played an important role through ASEAN+3 initiatives for developing local currency bond markets and financial cooperation such as the Asian Bond Markets Initiative, or ABMI.

“They can also share their knowledge and experience with other countries and consider opportunities to cofinance private sector projects,” he added.

By Oh Kyu-wook (
Korea Herald daum