Addressing Asia’s Infrastructure Gaps: ERIA Participates in AIIB’s Annual Meeting
The Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) held its third Annual Board of Governors’ Meeting in Mumbai, India from 25 to 26 June 2018. Ms Anita Prakash, ERIA’s Director General for Policy Design, participated in the meeting as the moderator of Asian Infrastructure Forum’s Workshop 5 – ‘Advancing Together: ASEAN Infrastructure Development.’
The theme of this year’s Annual Meeting was ‘Mobilising Finance for Infrastructure: Innovation and Collaboration,’ as a nod to the role of private sector in bridging the region’s infrastructure gap. The first Asian Infrastructure Forum was launched at the Annual Meeting this year in a bid to create business development opportunities for participants.
The Workshop moderated by Ms Prakash had four objectives. First, to discuss the strategic directions of ASEAN in the new global environment. Second, to understand the most strategic and vital infrastructure required to advance the fast-growth of ASEAN. Third, to discuss the possible approach and roadmap for advancing ASEAN infrastructure development. Fourth, to understand the expectation of AIIB in the ASEAN’s infrastructure development.
Five prominent people participated as panellists, namely H.E. Carlos Dominguez (Secretary, Department of Finance, Philippines), H.E. Heng Swee Keat (Minister of Finance, Singapore), H.E. Bambang Brodjonegoro (Minister of National Development Planning, Indonesia), H.E. Ambassador Preeti Saran, (Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, India), and Mr Kevan Watts (Vice Chairman, Global Banking, HSBC).
The workshop started with a presentation on Infrastructure Financing in ASEAN by Mr David Ginting from AIIB followed by a keynote on ASEAN Infrastructure Development by Secretary Dominguez from the Philippines.
Ms Prakash guided the panellists to ponder upon Secretary Dominguez’ presentation as an ASEAN template for infrastructure financing, and then relate it to the global conditions, the economic recovery, the challenges to globalisation and multilateralism, and how those will affect ASEAN’s growth strategy in next few years. She also asked the panellists to comment on what should be ASEAN’s major focus in terms of infrastructure development and connectivity improvement. During the discussion, the Ministers shared their country experience and how these will affect infrastructure development in medium term. Infrastructure for connectivity is the major requirement in ASEAN, including with its neighbours. The panellists also expressed their views and experience of balancing the banking mandate of AIIB while being mindful of domestic policies in their countries related to connectivity, infrastructure, and funding.
Ms Prakash then asked the panellists about the major takeaway or recommendation they would like to share with the AIIB, as a guidance that AIIB can take back to Beijing and appropriate it in its strategy and funding of projects ahead. The panellists recommended AIIB to pay special attention to sustainability and tradability of projects; keeping a lean organisation and refrain from funding populist projects, infrastructure for border areas to increase economic activity, transparency and respect for sovereign borders in implementing infrastructure projects; and utilising the peace dividend in ASEAN for infrastructure development. Ms Prakash stated in her concluding remarks that even though ASEAN is one community, its member states have different needs and are differently developed; therefore, AIIB must consider attending to both the Project Development phase and Project Implementation phase in all its infrastructure funding projects for ASEAN.