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ADB, UK launch fund for regional connectivity

S M Jahangir from Manila | May 03, 2018 00:00:00

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Kingdom (UK) have launched a new fund to help Bangladesh and other ADB members address the 'frontier challenges' the country faces in improving regional integration.

The UK through its Department for International Development (DFID) will initially contribute US$ 30 million to the Asia Regional Trade and Connectivity Fund (ARTCF).

The multi-country fund will initially focus on eight central and South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Kyrgyz Republic, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, the Asian lender said in a statement.

The fund was launched at an event on Wednesday at the ADB Headquarters in Manila ahead of the annual meeting of the ADB's Board of Governors, which begins here Thursday.

The ADB vice-president for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono, ADB Vice-President for Private Sector and Cofinancing Operations Diwakar Gupta, ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada and DFID Asia Regional Deputy Head Duncan Overfield, among others, attended the programme.

In line with ADB's Operational Plan for Regional Cooperation and Integration, 2016-2020, the ARTCF aims to help the selected ADB developing countries identify and design projects that improve cross-border transport, energy, and information and communications technology infrastructure.

The fund will also help recipients tackle red tape and regulatory bottlenecks.

Poverty reduction and gender impacts, and strengthening the capacity of the member countries for prospective investments will get priority.

"ADB's partnership with DFID will help further our ambitious knowledge-driven agenda and ensure that our members have access to the most effective, evidence-based solutions to further their regional integration goals," Mr. Susantono said in the statement.

"Let me extend my special appreciation to DFID for its support on new regional cooperation and integration areas," he said.

"One of ADB's core goals is to help our member countries work, trade, and connect more easily with each other and across the region," said Mr. Gupta.

ADB's partnership with DFID will strengthen regional cooperation and integration operations while addressing some of the region's most important development priorities, he added.

Since joining in 1966 as a founding member, the UK government has contributed more than $ 3.0 billion in capital subscription to the ADB and committed $ 1.43 billion to the bank's special funds as of 31 December 2017, the ADB said.

The ADB and DFID's co-financing collaboration came first in 1996, and since then, the two institutions have partnered on poverty alleviation, infrastructure development, finance, health, climate change, and public and private partnerships to benefit the people of the Asia and Pacific region, the statement said.

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