SAARC Finance Ministers Meet in Yokohama, Japan
5 May 2017
Finance ministers and senior officials of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka met on 5 May in Yokohama, Japan, at the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) 50th Annual General Meeting. Mr. Wencai Zhang, Vice President, ADB, delivered a keynote address, and Mr. Hun Kim, Director General, South Asia Department (SARD), ADB; Mr. Sean O'Sullivan, Director General, Central and West Asia Department (CWRD), ADB; Mr. Diwesh Sharan, Deputy Director General, SARD, ADB; and Mr. Hong Wei, Deputy Director General, CWRD, ADB, attended.
In his keynote address, Mr. Zhang highlighted that SAARC countries and ADB have had a long and productive partnership. While ADB assistance to South Asia stood at only 26% ($867 million) of ADB’s lending portfolio during 1967–1976, as of end 2016, ADB cumulative assistance to the subregion totaled $108.6 billion, accounting for more than 40% of ADB’s financing operations.
Mr. Zhang also noted that ADB has been extending financial and technical assistance to SAARC for research and knowledge dissemination, capacity building and institution strengthening, and regional policy dialogue. ADB has supported key studies to help operationalize SAARC’s economic cooperation agenda, including the (i) SAARC Regional Multimodal Transport Strategy Study, (ii) SAARC Regional Energy Trade Study, (iii) Study on Next Steps to South Asian Economic Union, (iv) Study on the Development of South Asian Capital Markets, (v) Indian Ocean Cargo and Ferry Services Study, and (vi) SAARC Study on Climate Change.
ADB has provided loans and grants to SAARC countries to implement the recommendations of these studies, which include, among others, upgrading sections of SAARC Corridors 4 and 8 in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal; as well as supporting the Bangladesh–India power transmission interconnection project.
ADB is also actively supporting South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) as secretariat and lead financier. Since SASEC’s inception in 2001, 46 projects amounting to over $9.0 billion have been invested, for which ADB has extended loans and grants of more than $5.7 billion.