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Kuwait proposes $2b development fund for Asia

Leaders from 32 countries attend first Asian Cooperation Dialogue

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 16:02 October 16, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: WAM
  • Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai sits between Uzbekistan and Thailand officials during the opening ceremony of the 10-year-old Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) at Bayan palace in Kuwait.
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Manama: Kuwait’s Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah on Tuesday called for setting up a $2-billion (Dh7.34 billion) fund to support development projects in Asian countries.

The proposed fund could be managed by a development institution in Asia such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) which could handle the financial assets and oversee their use in implementing projects in the least developed Asian countries, Shaikh Sabah said at the opening of the first Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) summit in Kuwait City.

“It gives me pleasure to announce that Kuwait will contribute $300 million to the fund and we hope that the proposed amount will be reached through contributions from ACD member countries,” Shaikh Sabah said.

“The investment of the potential of our countries to optimum levels and our cooperation to create a full economic integration will enable us to build strong economies capable of confronting challenges and overcoming obstacles,” the Emir said. “They will also help us raise the living standard of people of the continent, especially since the rapid demographic growth — 60 per cent of the world’s population — has been making heavy demands on our development efforts and plans. We do need to lay the required plans for the optimal use of our human and natural resources.”

Shaikh Sabah said that Kuwait was ready to join the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help boost cooperation between Asian countries. The ADB, founded in 1966, says that it “has been driven by an inspiration and dedication to improving people’s lives in Asia and the Pacific”.

Leaders from the 32 ACD member countries attended the opening of the summit amid reports that energy and food security issues topped the agenda for the event.

The ACD, an informal forum of 32 countries, was established as an initiative of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to enhance cooperation among Asian countries across several sectors. However, the forum had functioned as a ministerial dialogue before it was upgraded to a full summit.

According to Malaysia’s New Straits Times, the delegates will take up several topics behind closed doors including 20 projects that are currently being implemented by ACD members.

The Malaysian delegation at the summit is pushing for a global movement of moderates and adding value to e-education. Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhy Al Deen Yassin, who is leading the delegation, “is expected to touch substantially on e-education efforts already available through the ACD-initiated Asia e University as well as the push for member nations to adopt concepts under the Global Movement of the Moderates in various projects under its auspices”, the daily said.

The Malaysian delegation would also review e-commerce avenues and an infrastructure fund with member nations, the daily said.

Deputy foreign affairs minister senator A. Kohilan Pillay said the Malaysian delegation had proposed that the concept of the Global Movement of Moderates, formally launched by Prime Minister Najib Razak, be adopted by ACD member nations. “We will look at projects related to the moderation concept and use them as an informal platform to practice it. We will do it as long as member nations can benefit,” Pillay was quoted as saying.

Indonesia said it would use the summit to ask oil-producing member countries to take a common stand on stable global oil prices. “Oil prices must be affordable,” coordinating economic minister Hatta Rajasa said on his personal website ahead of the summit, the Jakarta Post reported.

Without low oil prices, Asian nations would face problems in eradicating poverty, he said.

Hatta said that Indonesia, a “co-prime mover” on energy issues at the ACD, would champion stable oil prices, energy efficiency and energy conservation programmes and development and usage of new energy resources, the daily said.

According to unconfirmed reports, Saudi Arabia will host the 2013 summit, and Pakistan will be the hosts in 2014.

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