I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Japan for hosting the 50th Asian Development Bank (ADB) annual meeting.
It is my pleasure to be here today, representing Australia’s Governor, the Treasurer, especially on such a momentous occasion as the ADB’s 50th anniversary.
The past 50 years has seen significant changes in the Asia Pacific region, with rapid economic growth across the region driving the global economy.
The ADB has played a critical role in building the necessary conditions for the region’s impressive economic gains.
Despite these gains, there remain ongoing challenges to sustainable growth and development in our region.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides the framework for all countries and development actors to address these challenges.
We believe that the ADB is well-placed to help meet these challenges in three priority areas.
First, building the productive capacity and efficiency of economies through funding high priority and high impact infrastructure projects.
The ADB, along with the other multilateral development banks, have a critical role to play here through the use of its own funds, as well as leveraging greater levels of private sector funding.
Second, supporting countries’ ongoing efforts to advance structural reform, strengthen governance, boost productivity and improve the mobilisation of domestic resources.
The ADB’s provision of high quality technical assistance has been instrumental in achieving significant reforms in the region in the past, and this must remain a key priority.
Well-designed policy-based loans by the ADB can also play a role.
Third, assisting vulnerable countries set up systems to predict and recover from natural disasters.
The Asia-Pacific region is one of the most vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change and the ADB has an important role here, including in support of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The ADB has focused on building its internal capacity through staff development, its decision making structures, its footprint, and its systems to best support the region in meeting these challenges.
We encourage the ADB to continue building its capacity to respond to new developments in the region, something the ADB is already prioritising.
In addition, and very importantly, we note that the ADB has now fully implemented the merger of the Ordinary Capital Resources and Asian Development Fund.
This momentous reform is projected to boost annual lending and grant approvals to as high as $20 billion by 2020 to fund much needed development priorities in the region.
We particularly welcome the increased resources allocated to the Pacific.
We want to see a sustained commitment by the ADB to effective in-country engagement and project implementation in the Pacific.
We welcome the ADB’s ‘looking over the horizon’ approach to its planning and developing its Strategy 2030 document.
It is through this type of long-range thinking and planning that international organisations such as the ADB can most effectively contribute to development outcomes in the region.
In a highly interconnected global economy, it is critical that we support international economic and financial cooperation and work together.
Looking back over the past 50 years, it is clear that a strong international financial architecture has been, and continues to be essential for global financial stability, and the ADB is a key component of that architecture.
Australia encourages the ADB to continue to engage with the G20 and collaborate with other international financial institutions.
This will ensure that all of these institutions are making the most of their substantial knowledge and abilities to support inclusive and sustainable growth.
Australia is strongly committed to the cooperative pursuit of shared objectives, through multilateral and regional forums.
We are an open economy; we support the principles of free trade and the continuation of trade liberalisation in our region.
While much has changed in the last 50 years in the Asia-Pacific region and much has been achieved with the strong support from the ADB, the job is far from finished.
We must all commit to pursuing sometimes difficult reforms that will drive further gains to living standards in our region.
We in Australia are not shrinking from our own challenges, to maintain growth as we transition from the mining investment boom to a more diversified and even more outward looking economy.
Australia looks forward to working with the ADB as it continues to respond to emerging global and regional challenges.
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