Why US-ADB partnership remains strong after 51 years

Published on Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Published by Stephen P. Groff on Tuesday, 20 March 2018

ADB-financed projects are good for American businesses and for developing countries in Asia-Pacific, explains Vice-President Stephen Groff.

Hello from the National Mall in Washington, DC, on a beautiful spring morning.

I am one of about 150 Americans who work at the Manila-based Asian Development Bank. Together with colleagues from our 67 member countries, we tackle challenges like a lack of basic infrastructure, environmental degradation and climate change, gender inequity, and social inequality.

The US is a founding member of the ADB, and—together with Japan—is a leading shareholder of our 51-year-old institution.

Over the past half century, ADB has been an extremely effective development organization in terms of cost-effectiveness, accountability to shareholders, and tangible development results.  And our operational model focuses on the principle of leveraging the capital invested by our member countries.

The US Treasury Department has estimated that every dollar the US has paid in to ADB’s capital base leads to $25 in lending.

  Every 1$ US contributes to ADB capital base generates $25 in lending

ADB is then able to use—and repeatedly re-use—member contributions to provide financing for sanitation; provision of clean water; power generation and transmission; transport development; and greater access to quality education and health services in 40 countries across Asia and the Pacific.

Significantly, all ADB-financed projects must have a strong economic rationale; abide by best practice environmental and social safeguards; follow international auditing and reporting standards; and adhere to strict anti-corruption and integrity standards.

Projects are also monitored closely throughout implementation; independently evaluated at completion; and provide robust mechanisms for investigation of stakeholder complaints.

One should expect nothing less from a public institution supported in part by American taxpayers. These are among the reasons why the US has played a leading role in our institution since its founding in 1966. Yet there are other reasons as well.

Not surprisingly, many of the problems that confront developing Asia and the Pacific do not necessarily respect national or regional borders. Cooperation among countries is critical to tackle threats such as financial crises and the spread of communicable diseases, transboundary pollution, and natural disasters.

  US has played leading role in ADB since its founding in 1966

ADB has been at the forefront of actively facilitating and supporting collaboration among countries to address these and other risks, as well as to capture the benefits associated with greater economic cooperation.

Increased integration has contributed to peace, stability, and prosperity across the region – something very much in the interest of the US and the world as a whole.

The Asia and Pacific region has seen unparalleled economic, social and cultural transformation over the past three decades. Despite greater cooperation and a significant improvement in many indicators of wellbeing, hundreds of millions of people in the region still live in deprivation or vulnerable circumstances.

As more countries achieve middle-income status, their challenges and needs have not disappeared, but rather have evolved – requiring continued international assistance and expertise.

Prominent among these challenges in Asia is filling a massive yearly gap of $1.7 trillion in transport, energy and other physical infrastructure, while simultaneously protecting the environment, raising productivity, and providing opportunities to vulnerable people to develop the skills needed to integrate into industries that are rapidly transforming. Such investment is critical to allowing the region to play its part in continued global economic growth.

  ADB looks forward to continuing strong partnership with US

The US has greatly benefited from its active role in the ADB, just as ADB has benefited from the engagement of our co-largest shareholder.

The US has been a strong proponent of policies and guidelines that encourage transparency, good governance, environment sustainability, and human dignity. These have helped to ensure that ADB-financed projects are prepared and implemented in line with international best practices.

American companies, NGOs, universities and research institutions have also contributed to ADB’s activities in developing Asia and the Pacific, winning more than 9,000 consulting and procurement contracts since the we began operations.

This has been good for American business, and good for developing Asia and Pacific countries that benefit from this technical expertise, as well as quality, cutting-edge products and services from the US.

ADB looks forward to continuing a strong partnership with the US as we navigate the path toward a stronger, better, and faster development institution, and continued stability, development, and prosperity across Asia and the Pacific.

Stay informed by following Mr. Groff on Twitter @spgroff and Facebook.