First for Central Asia as ADB meets in Uzbekistan

TASHKENT, May 1, 2010 (AFP) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Saturday opened its annual meeting in Uzbekistan, a first for Central Asia and a coup in the ex-Soviet state’s drive to be recognised as a regional economic power. Some 3,000 participants — including heads of state, central bank governors and finance ministers — have flocked to the Uzbek capital Tashkent from among the development bank’s 67 member nations.

While Asia’s developing economies are well on the road to recovery from the effects of the global financial crisis, ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda told reporters that serious obstacles remain to long-term sustainable growth.

“While many challenges remain, we believe that recovery has taken firm hold,” he said.

“The big challenge now is to make the recovery sustainable over the long term…. Far too many of the region’s people remain poor and without access to essential public services and economic opportunities,” he added.

Kuroda also urged Beijing to loosen its grip on its currency, echoing comments made last month by ADB’s China country director, saying a more flexible exchange rate would benefit China as well as the region.

International critics have accused China of keeping the yuan