If Haruhiko Kuroda has brought improved management to the
ADB since he became president in November 2004, he has also
advanced his own strong vision of an economically and
one day, politically more integrated Asia region. Kuroda
hopes to move a step further towards realizing his vision
during this years annual meeting.
One of the themes for discussion by governors will be what
the ADB sees as the need for more formal institutions to be set
up to accelerate cooperation among Asian nations. Kuroda says
building a network of institutions across a region so
scattered, ethnically diverse and economically divergent as
Asia will not be easy, but he wants to get the issue on the
table for discussion.
There could be various levels of regional and
sub-regional institutions, he tells Emerging
Markets. If you look at Europe, there is the
European Commission, the European Parliament and the European
Court. They also have the European Investment Bank so
many well established, concrete institutions while in Asia we
have very few.
Outside the ADB and the UN Economic and Social Commission
for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, there is almost
nothing by way of formal institutions for regional cooperation,
he says. Sub-regional cooperation initiatives such as SARC
(South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) and CAREC
(Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation) have some form of
secretariat, but at a wider level even the Asean+3 group has no
formal secretariat and relies on the tiny Asean secretariat in
Jakarta for support.
The Chiang Mai Initiative, a kind of Asian Monetary Fund in
the making, also needs to rely on the Asean Secretariat,
although Kuroda says that Asean+3 finance ministers are likely
to push for further institutionalization of their
cooperation process during their meeting in Tashkent.
Integration is well underway in Asia without formal
institutions, says Kuroda, citing multiple bilateral and
sub-regional free trade or economic cooperation agreements that
have proliferated across the region. But certainly clear
treaty agreements for free trade would be better and could
further facilitate regional integration, he says, while
arguing in favour of an Asean+3-wide free trade area or even