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Asian Development Bank 34th Meeting NZ Speech

Hon. Trevor Mallard
11 May 2001 (NZ Time) Speech Notes

Embargoed until:5.00pm (NZ time)

Asian Development Bank Thirty Fourth Annual Meeting
New Zealand Intervention – Hawaii

Let me start by thanking our hosts and the people of Hawaii for inviting us all to beautiful Honolulu. On behalf of my delegation, I extend our appreciation for the excellent organisation of this meeting. New Zealand would like to take this opportunity to welcome the Republic of Turkmenistan as the Bank’s newest member.

The Regional Economy
Last year, prospects for the region were bright. Some countries were in the middle of remarkable economic rebounds. So much has changed since then. The slowing global economy has reinforced the need to avoid complacency. If there is another financial crisis, we cannot rely on a U.S. boom to save the day, as was the situation in the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98.

Trade and Development
New Zealand considers that it is crucial that what we provide on the one hand through ODA is not taken away on the other by trade policies. Trade policy reform is a vital step in unlocking economic growth and poverty reduction in developing countries: World Bank figures show farm trade liberalisation by developed countries could yield annual global benefits of nearly US$ 43 billion.

New Zealand is doing what it can. The least developed countries will face no tariffs or quotas at all when exporting goods into New Zealand from 1 July 2001. Other developing countries face minimal tariff restrictions. New Zealand believes it is in the interest of Pacific Island countries to integrate into the international economy. New Zealand is involved in negotiations towards a Pacific Regional Trade Agreement (PARTA). The objectives of this Agreement are to provide a framework for the gradual trade and economic integration of the economies of the Pacific Forum members.

The Bank in the Pacific
New Zealand welcomes the growing commitment by the Bank in addressing the unique challenges facing the Pacific region. In particular, we would like to congratulate the Bank on its Pacific Regional Strategy endorsed by the Board in February this year. New Zealand also appreciates the Bank’s involvement in East Timor as a key player in reconstruction. New Zealand looks forward to developing these and future initiatives in collaboration and in partnership with the Bank and our neighbours.

Fighting poverty is a war that will require many different strategies, approaches, and tools. The Bank is committed to increasing its understanding of how this may be addressed in the Pacific and in Asia. New Zealand strongly urges the Bank to develop a small states policy in order to respond to the needs of this constituency, and supplement its arsenal in the fight against poverty in the region.

Collaboration with Other Development Banks and Donors
The international aid dollar is becoming increasingly scarce. It is vital that development banks and other agencies assess where their comparative advantage lies in the delivery of development assistance. This must occur to ensure resources are used effectively and duplication is avoided.

New Zealand welcomes the Bank’s undertaking to assess its future role in the region through the development of its Long Term Strategic Framework (LTSF).

New Zealand believes the Bank needs to go further with its efforts to clearly define those areas in which its activities are strong, and those areas in which its activities are weak. This should lead to greater selectively and prioritisation of the Bank’s activities.

My Government recently reviewed New Zealand’s partnership with the ADB. The objective of the review was to develop a strategy for a more structured, productive and cooperative relationship between New Zealand and the Bank. The wider aim is to improve the effectiveness of bilateral and multilateral development programmes. We ask that the Bank also continue its efforts to do all it can with its colleagues in development institutions to improve partnership, collaboration and cooperation. We are all working towards the same goal of poverty reduction and a more stable, fair, and prosperous region.

New Zealand would like again to endorse the President’s work to address issues relating to the Bank’s internal governance and external transparency. We welcome the Bank’s recognition of the need to strengthen the participation of shareholders through enhancing the effectiveness of the Board in setting the Bank’s strategic direction.

New Zealand supports the study into the capital adequacy of the Bank, but our support is premised on the maintenance of ordinary capital lending at current levels.

In conclusion, I wish to extend to President Chino, the management and the staff of the Bank, New Zealand’s appreciation for their efforts and endeavours in the fight against poverty over the past year.

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