His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos
President of the Philippines
On the Inauguration of Asian Development Bank
[Delivered in Makati, Rizal, December 19, 1966]
THE ADB: CORNERSTONE OF A NEW LIFE
The Filipino people are proud to share with you on our native soil this historic moment in the life of modern Asia. The inauguration of the Asian Development Bank will surely be remembered as one of the most auspicious events in the history of the region. None can doubt its relevance to the mighty stirring towards a new life of progress and dignity in this oldest of continents. And I shall add that this event is auspicious not only for the people of Asia, but also for the peace of the world.
For the Philippines, the creation of the Asian Development Bank is specially significant. The choice of the Philippines as the permanent site of the bank enhanced the national prestige. It is a recognition of the stability of our political structure, the soundness of our social and economic institutions and the ability of our people.
We take pride in having played an important role in the organization of the bank, and in having been chosen as the host country for its offices. Our pride must be tempered, however, with the awareness that our participation, and the honor and recognition accorded our country carries with it certain responsibilities. We shall meet these responsibilities.
AN INSPIRED VISION COME TRUE
The opening of the ADB proves that the forces working for cooperation and fraternity between nations should never be underestimated. The ADB only yesterday was but an inspired vision. Today, we are inaugurating the bank. We are giving the world the first concrete manifestation of regional economic cooperation in Asia.
That such can already be done in the world’s vastest and least homogenous—region, compliments the maturity and open-mindedness of the Asian nations. But it is also a tribute to the perfectibility of human cooperation in general, in spite of the vast differences that separate us culturally and politically.
COMMITMENT AGAINST POVERTY, IGNORANCE AND DISEASE
But even with their prophetic insights none of the Asian visionaries could foretell that in a few decades this great regional project—the Asian Development Bank could already materialize. We also know that the obligation of developed nations to help the less developed nations in ‘their own development is a relatively new and revolutionary idea in history.
We know, however, the proximate causes of the success of this great idea of the ADB. We know the ADB could rise today only because the ground had been well prepared for it during the past 18 years of the life of the ECAFE. This Commission of the United Nations brought together Asian governments closer to each other than anything had done before. In this regard, we are obliged to cite Mr. U Nyun, secretary general of the ECAFE, who has probably done as much as any other man to bring forth the Asian Development Bank.
This day marks the beginning of a new era in the solidarity of the region. The interest and participation in this new institution of countries outside the ECAFE region is an indubitable proof of the vision and statemanship of leading countries outside this continent.
The list of member countries suggests that the Asian Development Bank is not a mere regional bank that its name might imply. Its membership, covering 19 countries within the ECAFE region and 12-non-regional ones, in fact constitutes the biggest difference from other similar organizations. (They are Afghanistan, Australia, Cambodia, Ceylon, Nationalist China, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, The Philippines, Singapore, South Vietnam, Thailand and West Samoa. The non-regional member countries are Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, West Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom, United States and Sweden.) The mobilization of outside capital for development of Asian economy makes the Bank a unique institution. It may not be inappropriate, therefore, as someone has suggested, to call it a sort of “World Bank for Asia.”
Asia with more than half the world population and a steady trend of population growth is at the very center of the world crisis. While the crisis has various visible manifestations, what causes the most concern is the failure of agriculture to satisfy human needs. Looking ahead, the race between agricultural output and population is assuming formidable dimensions.
We Asians are, therefore, particularly happy about the keen interest shown by the countries outside the ECAFE region to help “foster economic growth and cooperation in the region, of Asia and the Far East and contribute to the acceleration of the process of economic development of the developing countries in the region.”
Allow me to congratulate the members of the board of directors. Cornelio Balmaceda (Philippines), Byung Kyu Chim (Korea), Masaru Fukuda (Japan). J. M. Garland (Australia), Ng Kam Poh (Malaysia), P.V.R. Rao (India), Khouw Bian Tie (Indonesia), Helmut Abramowski (West Germany), W. K. Wardroper (Canada), and Bernard Zagorin (United States).
At this juncture, I should like to congratulate the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank for taking a very wise, healthy and practical step in inviting other members and associate members of ECAFE and other non-regional developed countries which are members of the United Nations or any of its specialized agencies, that have not yet joined the bank, to join it.
I am aware that the Bank will, at this initial stage of its existence, have to face and solve some difficult problems, such as the formulation of policies concerning loans, investment, guarantees and other related problems, not to mention the problems of administration and appointing the right people to the right positions and getting them from as many member countries as possible.
I have no doubt in my mind that these problems will be solved in no time. The Board of Governors did well in entrusting the management of the bank to Mr. Takeshi Watanabe. His qualifications, background and experience eminently fit him for his new position.
What will make the burden of Mr. Watanabe lighter is the fact that he has a board composed of knowledgeable men and experts in their own fields.
I have great hopes that the bank will be a most powerful influence in stimulating economic and social development in this region. But the most important efforts in this direction must come, not from outside the region but from within. Progress is not merely a matter of advice and encouragement or external aid. Real progress can only result from actions within the boundaries of Asia herself, and it is for us Asians to work together for our common good.
To pool together our resources for development is undoubtedly a great act of maturity and wisdom. This is not only because most Asian countries lack the capital and the means of development. We also recognize the potential complementarities in our different development programs which can be approached so as to lessen costs and increase the benefits available to the nations concerned.
One of the major functions of the Asian Development Bank is to serve as a medium for bringing over investments from the highly developed countries to the developing countries of the region. In the case of the Philippines, alone, we have projected our need for foreign investments at more than P3.5 billion over the next three years of a four-year program period.
The bank will also help redress the imbalance in foreign exchange prevailing in most Asian countries estimated at from 600 million to one billion dollars. This is the foreign exchange gap involved in economic modernization and the raising of productivity.
Because it will be mainly managed by Asians, and staffed by Asian experts, the ADB would be to orient itself to the peculiar needs and requirements of the Asian countries. It will help prepare technical studies and proposals for loans among the member countries or governments. I can see a salutary effect arising from this. There will be pressure on member governments to scrutinize more closely and rigorously their own development projects to qualify for assistance, and therefore to raise the level of their own planning and management competence.
But I believe that in the long run the most lasting effect of this bank would be moral, in the sense that it would help spark in all member countries a new spirit of change—of being able to alter their own environments to make them serve the aims of a better and fuller life in dignity and freedom. And it is in this sense that the Asian Development Bank in the end enters the confluence of patriotic ideas associated with the great humanitarian heroes of Asia.
REGIONAL COOPERATION: A NECESSITY
We must at last face the truth that there is no choice for our countries except to cooperate. The World Bank has given Southeast Asia only 5.3 per cent of all loans. The per capita loans from the World Bank on a regional basis are $2.80 to Asia, $3.04 to Africa and $4.20 to Europe. The per capital foreign aid to Southeast Asia is only $2.50 while it is $5.90 to Africa and $5 to Latin America.
The economic development of the Western Nations of Japan took place under different historical conditions when capitalism was in its primitive and notorious stage and completely indifferent to the human wreckage that it left in its wake. Today, most of our countries, irrespective of our stages of development and political beliefs, are signatories to covenants and conventions under the United Nations which bind us to accord to workers the freedom of organization and collective bargaining and the protection of various labor laws. As I have told the Asian Labor Ministers Conference just ended in Manila, the Asian Nations today are in the position of being required to wage an industrial revolution without exploitation, no nation today is permitted to suspend human rights in deference to an urgent period of economic development. The dilemma of modern development in Asia is that it must be pursued hand in hand with the welfare of the poorest people. Implied in this is the renunciation of drastic methods of capital accumulation and formation which served the Western Industrial Revolution so well. Because of this, the Asian countries must turn to each other and to the developed countries of the West for the additional capital they need for their development. Cooperation, therefore, is no longer optional, when one thinks in broad terms, but a necessity imposed upon our countries by the common objective of development.
SURPASSING THE LIMITS OF PEACE
The recognition of this necessity is an act of maturity and wisdom. And I am glad that the non-regional members of the ADB, representing the developed West, are also taking part in this undertaking, ready to share with Asia the experience and the capacities that are the sources of their own development. It is my fond hope that other ECAFE countries such as the Soviet Union will now come into the bank, or at least participate in the development of Asia through the special fund of the bank.
This event is a hopeful sign that once the energies of nations are directed towards peace and progress, the old narrow limits of possible attainment are soon surpassed. The inauguration of the ADB should boost the morale of all who believe in world peace and brotherhood.
Considering that the tensions in Asia remain the gravest menace to world peace, the opening of this great bank directed to the deepest causes of such tensions—mass poverty, ignorance and disease, becomes all the more encouraging and reassuring for mankind.
In conclusion, may I say to the men behind this bank; congratulations and best wishes as you go forth on your historic mission of building a better life for the peoples of Asia.
Source: National Library
Marcos, F. E. (1966). Speech of President Marcos on the Inauguration of Asian Development Bank. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, 63(4), 791-795.