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IDB, ADB to strengthen South-South links

TOKYO - Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President Luis Alberto Moreno and Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda signed a partnership agreement that will see the two institutions work more closely in areas ranging from trade facilitation and regional cooperation to climate change.

Moreno and Kuroda also signed a memorandum of understanding under which the IDB and the ADB will support projects and programs promoting sustainable, low-carbon transport in their respective developing member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and in Asia and the Pacific.

The agreements were formalized on Monday in Tokyo ahead of a series of meetings between ministers and leaders of the 21 Pacific Rim members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation that will take place in Singapore later this week. Discussions at those meetings are likely to center around economic and trade issues and regional cooperation.

“There’s enormous interest in Latin America and the Caribbean to build closer ties with Asia and the Pacific. Strengthening our partnership with ADB is an excellent way to help our member countries achieve that goal,” Moreno said.

“As the world economic order gradually takes on a new shape and structure, it is important that our two regions increase cooperation; reduce barriers to trade, investment, and finance; and work together to promote financial stability along with regional and global public goods,” Kuroda said.

Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia and the Pacific share a number of characteristics. Both have huge potential for economic growth and development yet are vulnerable to external shocks such as the global downturn and volatile capital flows. Both regions are tackling poverty and inequality and similarly face vast environmental challenges.

At the same time, the two trans-Pacific regions, which collectively constitute a quarter of the global economy, could benefit enormously from a further expansion in economic relations. Interregional trade exceeded $300 billion in 2008 but economic links between the two regions remain relatively weak and show little diversification.

The agreements signed in Tokyo mark another step in deepening cooperation between IDB and ADB over the past decade. Earlier this year, for example, they agreed to share access to their trade finance programs linking more than 100 financial institutions to support trade between companies in the two regions.

Another key area for collaboration is low-carbon transport. The IDB is developing a regional strategy and an action plan to help Latin American and Caribbean countries and cities modernize their transport sectors in order to limit greenhouse gas emissions and reduce congestion, accidents and air and noise pollution. On its part, ADB has been promoting investments in sustainable transportation systems by helping developing member countries undertake inclusive, clean and energy-efficient transport projects.

The IDB promotes economic, social and institutional development and regional integration in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its establishment, approved a record $11.2 billion in lending last year. Among its 48 members are three Asian countries: China, Japan and Korea.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in the Asia and Pacific region through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2008, it approved $10.5 billion of loans, $811.4 million of grant projects, and technical assistance amounting to $274.5 million.

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