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ADB chief says trade friction, debt could hobble Asia growth

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Takehiko Nakao President of Asian Development Bank Asia's premier lending institution gestures during a news conference at the ongoing 51st ADB Annual Governor's Meeting Thursday

Over 4000 participants, including delegates from countries across Asia, North America and Europe, are attending the three-day annual meeting in Manila, where the topics to be discussed include climate change, poverty reduction, and gender and governance issues.

The other panelists were Takehiko Nakao, President of the ADB, Minnette Navarette, President of Kickstart Ventures, and Nandita Parshad, Managing Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, who were engaged in a debate by CNBC's Anchor Oriel Morrison.

China's new programs could become serious rivals to the ADB and the World Bank, some economists say.

"Our focus and plan in Pakistan is to strengthen transmission lines and distribution system", he said, adding the ADB's focus is more on the demand side, on efficiency, and on distribution system".

"It should invest in fintech, healthtech and other ways in which public services can be delivered to people of Asia to improve their quality of life", Garg said.

"With countries that have market access making that graduation, ADB will be able to focus its limited resources on those countries that truly lack market access and have the highest needs", a U.S. government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

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Although he acknowledged that still there are many challenges to overcome, Nakao was of the view that the region is well-positioned to sustain its growth momentum, supported by strong private consumption and investment, along with sound macroeconomic policies and structural reforms. "We will focus on lagging areas and pockets of poverty even in middle-income countries", he noted. "Therefore, probably, pursuing this idea may not be. advisable".

Nakao also mentioned ADB's ongoing efforts to improving gender balance within the bank, with representation of women among global staff increasing to a record high of 35 percent in 2017, a step closer to the bank's target of 40 percent by the end of 2022.

India is a founding member of the ADB and is now the fourth largest shareholder and the largest borrower of the ADB sovereign lending since 2010.

ADB operations include loans, guarantees, equity investments, technical assistance and co-financing, which a year ago totaled $32.2 billion, representing a 26 percent increase from 2016.

He said the AIIB had observed "very high standards" in terms of its programmes, and the AIIB and the ADB this year hoped to approve several projects which they would co-finance. "ADB should open its missions in major business locations", he said.

He also suggested ADB to be a partner in the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to promote clean and renewable energy.

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