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ADB annual meeting in Korea canceled due to COVID-19

The Asian Development Bank’s 53rd annual meeting, which was slated to be hosted in Incheon’s Songdo in September, has been canceled due to the persisting COVID-19 situation, Seoul’s government said Friday.

South Korea will seek to take its hosting turn in 2023, instead.

The event, originally set for May, had already been delayed once in March amid hopes that the epidemic situation may improve.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance made an official request to the ADB headquarters on July 3 that this year’s offline event be postponed, and obtained the approval of the board of governors in Manila, Philippines, at 6 p.m. (local time), Monday.

The Incheon event will be replaced by a teleconference hosted by the organization’s headquarters, with Korea’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki presiding as chair. Governors will also decide on whether Korea may host the 56th annual meeting as an alternative to this year’s cancellation.

“The latest decision was based on the judgment that the safety of local and international participants should be prioritized as the COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe,” said Huh Chang, director general of development finance bureau at the ministry.

“This year, we will focus on sharing Korea’s quarantine and economic policy experiences in order to help emerging economies in the Asia-Pacific region respond to COVID-19.”

Citing past cases of inevitable postponements and pointing out that no member state has yet offered to host the 2023 event, the senior official said that there will be little problem for Korea to serve as host three years from now.

A precedent was Turkey which had to call off its ADB hosting in 2003 due to the Iraq War and had its turn two years later in 2005, according to Seoul government.

Next year’s ADB meeting is scheduled to be hosted by Georgia, followed by Sri Lanka in 2022.

By Bae Hyun-jung (