May 7, 2017 6:00 pm JST

ADB seeks continued US engagement in the Asia-Pacific region

Lack of US permanent board director 'not really good,' says bank president

MIKHAIL FLORES, Nikkei staff writer

President Takehiko Nakao of the Asian Development Bank speaks after the bank's annual meeting in Yokohama, Japan, on May 7.

YOKOHAMA, Japan -- The Asian Development Bank has urged the U.S. to remain economically present in the Asia-Pacific region, amid protectionist noises from President Donald Trump.

"I hope that the U.S. would continue to be engaged in the Asia-Pacific region very closely, through ADB and other multilateral development banks," said the lender's president, Takehiko Nakao, on Sunday at the close of its annual meeting in Yokohama.

Trump's "America first" policy has moved to scale back U.S. involvement in multilateral institutions in favor of a bilateral approach. Trump recently appointed Eli Miller, his campaign finance chief, as the U.S. director for ADB and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The appointment is temporary, pending the naming of permanent representatives. Miller skipped the 50th annual meeting in Yokohama, which started Thursday and ended Sunday.

"It's not really good that such a big shareholder, with the same voting share as Japan, doesn't have an executive director," Nakao said.

Swati Dandekar, the U.S. representative to the ADB's resident board of directors, was among the political appointees Trump ordered to return home when he became president. His predecessor, Barack Obama, appointed Dandekar, a one-time state legislator from Iowa, to the ADB in 2015. She was confirmed by the Senate a year later.

"As I look back at the history of the ADB and Asian development, the U.S. investment in Asia has been very efficient. So I hope the U.S. government ... continues investing in ADB," Nakao said.

The U.S. and Japan are the ADB's largest shareholders, each with a 15.6% share in the Manila-based lender. The U.S. had contributed $22.27 billion in capital subscriptions as of the end of 2016 and committed $4.65 billion to special funds since joining in 1966.

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