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WB Increases Its Support to East Asia and Pacific Region

The World Bank Group committed loans, grants and credits worth US$4.3 billion for development projects and operations in 10 countries in the East Asia and Pacific region during fiscal year 2007. This was more than US$600 million over the previous year, reflecting the stronger economic performance of most countries in the region.


IBRD/IDA Commitments (US$m)*































*Excludes GEF and MDTF operations.

Jim Adams, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific, said while continuing to work with governments on reducing poverty, the region was also scaling up its support for operations aimed at addressing climate change and the growing demand for clean energy. "Most countries in East Asia are entering an energy-intensive stage of development," Mr Adams said. "Now, with the rapid growth we are seeing in the region, our financial and technical support needs to be in line with our countries' efforts to protect their environments while providing more climate-friendly sources of energy. Close to 15 percent of our lending in the East Asia and Pacific region was targeted at the environment and natural resource management in 2007 and we’re looking to scale up our successes – especially in the area of energy efficiency."

China continues to be the largest borrower in the Bank's East Asia and Pacific region, accounting for loans worth US$1.6 billion during FY2007 – or 41 percent of the total. The major proportion of these funds (around 60 percent) went into improving urban infrastructure – including roads, water and sanitation – rehabilitating river and forest environments and building better transport systems.

This commitment extends across the World Bank Group. The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency - MIGA - is supporting several investments in solid waste management and water supply to help meet China's growing demand for these services. In 2007, MIGA provided investment insurance (guarantees) in support of five projects in China and undertook four technical assistance projects throughout the region. Its gross guarantee exposure for the region stood at US$437.8 million at the end of FY07.

"Managing scarce resources and environmental challenges is a key focus of the World Bank Group in China," said Yukiko Omura, executive vice president of MIGA. "These projects are particularly exciting because they are conserving Beijing's limited landfill capacity while introducing advanced waste treatment technology and generating electricity."

During 2007, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) also supported clean energy and energy efficiency in China through the China Utility-based Energy Efficiency Finance Program. IFC also made its first financial market and equity investment in Lao PDR to help Vientiane Commercial Bank improve its provision of private sector banking services, partnering with German development bank KfW to expand access to microfinance for 5 million micro-enterprises and low income households across the region.

The Bank's East Asia and Pacific region has placed strong emphasis on lending to countries to help strengthen their public institutions. A US$600 million development policy loan to Indonesia is enabling the government to deepen reforms in areas such as public financial management and governance, improving its investment climate and delivering services for the poor. A similar loan to the Philippines, for US$250 million, is supporting the country's efforts to reduce public sector debt through a better tax system.

In Vietnam, a new five-year strategy was launched that focuses on the next generation of reforms needed to improve the country's competitiveness and integration into the world economy while also attending to growing needs for good governance, modernized social protection systems, better environmental management and improved infrastructure.

Governments across the region have made major strides in reducing poverty through successful pro-poor growth strategies. Poverty in the region (US$2 a day) fell by 25 million in 2006. Extreme poverty (US$1 a day) dropped from 8.1 percent of the population in 2005 to 7.6 percent in 2006.

(China Development Gateway September 5, 2007)

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