I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Germany for hosting the 49th Asian Development Bank meeting.
It is my pleasure to represent Australia on behalf of the Treasurer, who unfortunately could not be here having just handed down Australia’s 2016-17 Budget last night.
Australia’s economy continues to perform well in a difficult global environment.
And, after slowing in 2015, global growth is expected to improve over the next few years.
The International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OECD) and Development have downgraded their forecasts for global growth, although both continue to forecast a pick up from 2016 onwards.
Near-term growth remains uneven and risks to the global outlook remain. These include the risk of a sharper than expected slowing in China, geopolitical uncertainties, and continued bouts of financial volatility.
The recent Asian Development Outlook 2016 report notes that growth is slowing across much of developing Asia as a result of the continued weak recovery in major industrial economies and slower growth prospects for the People’s Republic of China.
Our task here at the ADB is to respond to these challenges, promote stable growth and increase the region’s productivity. The Bank can play a key role in this response.
Under Australia’s Presidency, the G20 agreed to an ambition to lift collective GDP by 2 per cent by the end of 2018. This recognises the importance of structural reform to growth, at a time when there is increasingly less room for monetary policy to support growth. The Bank can make a significant difference to countries’ capacities to implement structural growth reforms.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Bank’s significant work to better optimise their balance sheets. The merger of the Asian Development Fund’s loan assets and operations with the Ordinary Capital Resources is an example of the Bank’s commitment to address the long-term financing challenge.
Australia is strongly supportive of the Bank’s efforts to foster productive private sector investment in infrastructure development and we are pleased to have committed A$10 million to the Asia Pacific Project Preparation Facility. Australia’s support for this initiative underscores our commitment to lift investment in global infrastructure, a critical component to ensuring economic growth and poverty alleviation.
In a highly interconnected global economy, it is more important than ever that we build relationships and take a cooperative approach to these challenges.
Australia is highly committed to multilateralism – we have a shared responsibility and by working together on a shared vision on the basis of shared knowledge and experience, we can achieve far more than going it alone.
We are keen to see multilateral organisations operate as efficiently and effectively as they can. For this reason, we encourage the Bank to continue to work collaboratively with other multilateral development banks to maximise the development potential for our region.
In Australia, we are equally committed to growth. The Government’s National Platform for Economic Growth and Jobs will transition our economy to support broad based growth over the next decade and beyond. We are an open economy with strong economic links to the region, so growth in Australia is not just good for us, but good for the region.
Australia remains strongly committed to the Asian Development Bank and to working with the Asia-Pacific region. Earlier this week I announced our pledge of A$468.54 million to the replenishment of the Asian Development Fund. This is evidence of our support for the Bank and our commitment to tackling poverty in the Asia-Pacific.
Fragile, conflict affected and small island states face their own unique development challenges, and we encourage the Bank to continue to step up its efforts in these countries. We believe that more can be done, including in areas such as promoting economic opportunities for women and girls.
It is essential that we work together to support sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the Asia and the Pacific areas to reduce poverty and support a shared prosperity.
Australia will continue to play an active role in working with our partners to face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
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