BAKU (Azerbaijan): The managements of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the upcoming Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) have agreed to collaborate with each other and co-finance infrastructure projects for sustainable development and poverty reduction across the continent.

The agreement was reached ahead of the 48th annual meeting of the ADB board of directors when ADB President Takehiko Nakao met the AIIB multilateral interim secretariat’s Secretary General Liqun Jin here on Friday.

According to the ADB secretariat, the two sides discussed future collaboration, including co-financing, and confirmed their commitment to working together for Asia. “They acknowledged the large infrastructure gap in the region, the critical role of infrastructure in supporting sustainable development and poverty reduction, and the importance of safeguard policies on environmental and social impacts of projects.”

The AIIB was previously seen by some economists as a rival to the ADB, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as China, being the driving force behind it, always alleged that the three traditional financial institutions advanced the interests of Japan, Europe and the United States. The AIIB is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year after all founding members complete the signature process by end-June.

“ADB will cooperate and co-finance with AIIB on infrastructure financing across Asia by using our long experience and expertise in the region,” Mr Nakao said.

They agreed to continue sharing necessary information and discussing concrete options for collaboration.

As the two development institutions set the stage for the ADB annual meetings on a positive note, about 3,000 government officials, business leaders, academics, journalists and representatives from civil society and development organisations are expected to attend them in the capital of Azerbaijan which has declared 2015 as the year of European Games.

Under the theme ‘Fostering partnership for development’, the meetings — taking place for the first time in the South Caucasus region — will highlight the importance of leveraging resources and strengthening collaboration between the ADB, its members and multilateral and bilateral partners. It will also update shareholders on progress made toward implementing the Midterm Review of Strategy 2020, as well as plans to enhance the bank’s lending capacity.

Pakistan will be represented by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

A seminar entitled ‘Rethinking growth potential and growth models’ will discuss Asia’s future economic models, how to prepare the region to meet the new challenges and opportunities, and how to design appropriate policy packages to maximise growth potential.

The ADB secretariat said the delegates would discuss a broad range of topics relevant to ADB’s mandate in a crucial year for development. Before the Millennium Development Goals expire on Dec 31, world leaders are expected to reach global agreements on the new post-2015 sustainable development goals, climate change, financing for development and disaster risk resilience.

As the world’s largest and fastest growing region, Asia has a major role to play in this agenda.

Financing these global agreements, though, will be a huge challenge. The meeting is expected to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to explore possible solutions and discuss how the resources of the ADB and its partners can best be utilised to help meet the cost.

The IMF will again co-host a panel on financial sector development, while the World Economic Forum will arrange a debate on Asia’s economic outlook.

Other conferences will tackle issues such as how to make Asian cities more liveable and resilient to climate change, regional economic cooperation in Central Asia and the South Caucasus and Islamic finance.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2015

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