Events - 20.10.2017 - 00:00 

Asian Development Bank and Switzerland celebrate 50 years of partnership

There has been a partnership between Switzerland and the Asian Development Bank with the aim of combating poverty and reducing disaster risks in Asia for 50 years. At an anniversary celebration in St.Gallen’s Einstein Congress Hotel, tribute was paid to this successful cooperation.
Source: HSG Newsroom

20 October 2017. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a multilateral development bank based in Manila. It was established in 1966 with the aim of combating poverty in the Asia/Pacific region. Switzerland joined ADB only a year later. Today, the bank has 67 member countries, of which 48 are in the Asia/Pacific region and 19 in Europe and North America. ADB cooperates closely with enterprises and other private-industry actors in order to inject innovation, funds and new technologies into development work.

Asia with strong growth

The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the partnership between the Asian Development Bank and Switzerland took place on Thursday, 19 October. It was organised by ADB, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the University of St.Gallen and the Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce. The programme included introductory addresses by Ambassador Raymund Furrer and ADB Vice-President Dr. Bambang Susantono, as well as a panel discussion.

In his capacity as Switzerland’s Governor in ADB and Head of Economic Cooperation and Development in SECO, Raymund Furrer reminded the audience that ADB had realised important projects in the course of the last few decades but would not run out of work owing to big challenges such as climate protection, disaster risks and gender equality. Bambang Susantono emphasised that Asia had sustained strong growth in the last five decades. Although this had resulted in a decrease in poverty, inequality between poor and rich had increased at the same time. The ADB Vice-President described urbanisation in Asia as rapid and said that funding requirements for infrastructural projects were huge.

Strengthening the private sector

For the panel discussion, Raymund Furrer was joined by ADB’s Chief Economist Dr. Yasuyuki Sawada and by Prof. Dr. Simon Evenett, Professor of International Trade and Economic Development at the University of St.Gallen. The discussion was chaired by Eunice Zehnder-Lai, CEO of IPM and a member of the Foundation Board of the Asia Society Switzerland.

One of the topics that were discussed was Strategy 2030, according to which the bank is adding climate protection, the fight against and illness and epidemics, income disparity, as well as gender equality, to its traditional objectives of combating poverty and promoting economic development. The goal is a clean and environmentally compatible development policy. A great deal of consideration was also given to the question as to how ADB would be able to strengthen the private sector. It was criticised that at present, it was primarily the public sector which profited from the extension of credit for development projects.

The members of the panel agreed that a flourishing private sector was a driving force for economic growth and development. Private enterprises would contribute to the creation of jobs and incomes, to the development of infrastructure, to the provision of a wide range of goods and services, and to employee training. In this way, the activities of the private sector would have a favourable impact on the improvement of people’s living conditions and on the reduction of poverty.