ASIAN Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao met with Australian Treasurer and ADB Governor Josh Frydenberg on September 10 to discuss opportunities for expanded collaboration in the Pacific region. Nakao also met with senior officials from the Treasury Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to discuss various issues in Asia and the Pacific.
“Australia is a founding member of ADB and this year marks 53 years of ADB–Australia cooperation,” said Nakao. “ADB’s Pacific program is growing rapidly and I would like to express my appreciation to the Government of Australia for encouraging and supporting ADB’s expanded presence in the Pacific,” he added.
In the past three years (2016–2018), total ADB lending and grant commitments in the Pacific’s 15 developing member countries (DMCs) amounted to US$1.5 billion as compared to US$700 million in the previous three years (2013–2015).
Donors’ support contributed to an increase in the Asian Development Fund (ADF), providing grant financing to ADB’s lowest income DMCs. Annual ADF base allocations were increased from US$6 million to US$13 million for 2019 and 2020, an important boost in concessional financing for many countries in the Pacific.
Nakao said that while the Pacific Island countries have taken measures recently to improve their debt position, raise tax revenues, and mobilize private sector resources, the size of their economies, geographical isolation, and vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change underline an ongoing need for large-scale development assistance.
“We are hopeful that more financial resources can be allocated to the Pacific through discussions with our development partners. Australia’s strong advocacy for the Pacific will be important to help mobilize these additional resources,” he added.
ADB and Australia have a long and deep history of working together. In the Pacific Islands, Australia and ADB have helped to upgrade roads, strengthen rural health clinics, expand renewable energy, and boost connectivity. In Southeast Asia, Australia and ADB are working together in the transport and energy sectors and boosting connectivity in the Central Mekong Delta region.
Australia is a founding member of ADB and its fifth largest shareholder. It has contributed about US$2.8 billion to the ADF (which provided concessional lending in addition to grant operations until the merger for concessional lending with ADB’s ordinary capital resources in 2017) making it the third-largest donor after Japan and the United States. Australia has provided US$172.6 million for 12 trust funds in Asia and the Pacific that have helped to support clean energy, business investment, and gender equality.
Since 1990, Australia has provided US$950 million in cofinancing for projects in areas such as transport, health and education. Cofinancing has also helped ADB build local capacities in the Pacific region by supporting donor coordination, portfolio management and policy dialogue.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to US$21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.