The Korea Herald


Central bankers, finance ministers flock to Songdo for ADB meeting

Top economic policymakers of Korea, Japan set to hold first meeting in 7 years

By Im Eun-byel

Published : May 1, 2023 - 15:17

    • Link copied

Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho speaks at the 56th ADB meeting held in September. (Finance Ministry) Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho speaks at the 56th ADB meeting held in September. (Finance Ministry)

Some 5,000 policymakers and finance experts from 68 Asia-Pacific nations and beyond have flocked to Incheon to attend an annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank that was set to kick off Tuesday.

The 56th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank will run for four days in Incheon’s Songdo district under the slogan, “Rebounding Asia: Recover, Reconnect and Reform.”

The ADB is a social development organization that calls for cooperation among Asia-Pacific nations and is committed to eradicating extreme poverty. South Korea is a founding member.

This year’s ADB meeting is the first in-person event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the third time for Korea to host the annual gathering, following one in 1970 in Seoul and another in 2004 in Jeju.

Through the event, the Korean government hopes to strengthen ties with the ADB in fighting climate change. A technology hub will be set up in Korea to share the nation's climate-related technologies with developing countries.

On the first day of the event, finance ministers and governors of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Plus Three – consisting of 10 ASEAN member states along with South Korea, China and Japan – will hold a closed-door meeting.

Meanwhile, the top finance policymakers of Korea, China and Japan are to hold an additional, separate meeting. Deepening inflation woes and monetary policies are among the key topics.

During the Korea Seminar Day session, Cho Dong-chul, president of the Korea Development Institute, will hold a talk with Nobel laureate and prominent economist Michael Kremer to discuss a range of current issues facing the Asia-Pacific region, including post-pandemic economic challenges, global supply chain disruptions and policy redesign.

On Wednesday, the ADB Board of Governors will hold an official meeting to discuss policies to support Asia’s rebound amid the slowing economy. The organization’s yearly budget, activities and major agendas will be approved through the meeting.

An ADB Project Briefing session will take place, allowing Korean and international companies to introduce major infrastructure and energy projects. The day will wrap up with a culture concert, featuring K-pop girl group NewJeans and other artists.

On Thursday, a Governors' Business Session will take place along with the Korea Business Briefing and ADB President's Reception, where Korean companies will have a chance to introduce their businesses to audience members.

Officials and experts will discuss ways to reinvigorate regional cooperation in central and western Asia.

The event will wrap up on Friday, with more seminars and the next host country, Georgia, holding an event to introduce its upcoming gathering to be held in Tbilisi in 2024.

Meanwhile, keen interest is being paid to Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho’s planned meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Shunichi Suzuki, on the sidelines of the event. It will be the first time in seven years that the two top economic policymakers of Korea and Japan hold a meeting. Ties between the two neighbors had long been strained over historical disputes stemming from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula.

A breakthrough in bilateral relations came in March, when President Yoon Suk Yeol visited Tokyo to hold a summit with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Exact details of the meeting have not yet been confirmed, but the two ministers are likely to discuss ways to reinvigorate economic partnership between the two countries, including a possible resumption of a currency swap deal that expired in 2015.