East Asia and Pacific remained the fastest-growing developing region in the world in 2012. It was an engine of growth during the recent global turmoil, contributing about 40 percent of the increase in global output in 2012. China’s growth slowed to 7.8 percent in 2012, down from 9.3 percent in 2011, but growth in the other developing economies of the region rose to 6.2 percent, up from 4.5 percent in 2011.
The proportion of people living in poverty in the region has steadily declined: less than 10 percent of the region’s population now lives on $1.25 a day. Much more work needs to be done to build shared prosperity, however, as close to half a billion people are still living on just $2 a day.
World Bank assistance
The Bank approved $6.2 billion for the region for 47 projects this fiscal year. Support included $3.7 billion in IBRD loans and $2.6 billion in IDA commitments. The leading sectors were Public Administration, Law, and Justice ($1.4 billion); Transportation ($1.1 billion); and Water, Sanitation, and Flood Protection ($1.1 billion).
The Bank’s strategy in the region focuses on five development challenges: poverty reduction and inequality, climate change and disaster risk management, urbanization and infrastructure, governance and institutions, and private sector–led growth and job creation. Growth and job creation are critical for reducing poverty and building shared prosperity, particularly given the high rates of youth unemployment and the informality of the labor market.
Reengaging with Myanmar
A key priority in fiscal 2013 was reengaging with Myanmar after a 25-year absence. In August 2012, the Bank and IFC opened an office in Yangon. A second office is planned in the capital city of Nay Pyi Taw. The new Interim Support Strategy, approved by the Board in November 2012, will guide the Bank’s work through March 2014. The Bank also provided a $440 million credit to support critical reforms and help Myanmar clear its arrears, paving the way for full reengagement. An $80 million grant is supporting a national, communitydriven development project to enable villagers to improve schools, clinics, roads, and the water supply.
Electrifying rural areas
In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Bank and IFC continued to support Phase II of the $35 million Rural Electrification Project, which seeks to extend the electricity grid to rural households and promote off-grid renewable energy throughout the country. The project’s Power to the Poor Program provides interest-free credit for poor families— particularly households headed by women—to connect them to the grid. Thanks in part to these efforts, access to electricity has risen from only 15 percent of households in 1995 to more than 80 percent today.
Reducing poverty and inequality
In Indonesia, the Bank is managing a multidonor facility that supports the National Program for Community Empowerment (PNPM), which has generated employment, significantly raised incomes for more than 100 million poor or near-poor people, and built infrastructure that benefits the poor. PNPM Generasi—a pilot program that uses the PNPM platform to improve health and education outcomes—has helped decrease child malnutrition by 9.5 percent and increase primary and junior secondary school enrollment rates by 22–35 percent in pilot areas.
Opening up markets and opportunities in the Pacific
In Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu, the Bank is working to open up markets and opportunities by supporting safe and efficient air travel, which is critical to connecting these small island states to one another and to larger markets, as well as supporting tourism. The Pacific Islands Aviation Investment Program is helping to improve airport infrastructure and safety to enable airports to meet international standards. The Bank has also worked to open telecommunications markets across the Pacific, achieving dramatic increases in mobile penetration in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu by helping to introduce competition. In less than 10 years, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu have reached access levels of more than 70 percent.
Pursuing joint business strategies
The Bank, IFC, and MIGA worked together on business strategies in the region in fiscal 2013. The projects included efforts to improve the financial sector in Indonesia, improve livelihoods through agriculture in Mongolia, expand access to electricity in Myanmar, increase women’s empowerment in the Pacific, improve agribusiness in a postconflict zone in the southern part of the Philippines, and promote efficiency and value addition in agriculture in Vietnam. The three institutions are working together on the Singapore Hub, focusing on infrastructure finance and building on the development experience of Singapore and other countries in the region.
Forging knowledge partnerships to deliver solutions
Knowledge is playing an increasingly important role in the Bank’s partnerships. This fiscal year, the Bank and China launched a knowledge hub–sharing initiative to help China disseminate practical development experiences within its borders and abroad, with an initial focus on urban transport. The World Bank Group also announced plans to open an office in the Republic of Korea to leverage Korea’s development experience, including its knowledge of financial sector and private sector development, for the benefit of countries in the region and beyond. The Bank continues to build partnerships with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Australian Government Overseas Aid Program (AusAID), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Pacific Island Forum, and many other partners in order to maximize development impact.
|The regional report for East Asia and Pacific||PDF (202KB)|