Asian Perspective: The World Bank’s Role in East Asia

The Griffith Asia Institute and the Australian Centre of Asia-Pacific Art, Queensland Art Gallery were pleased to host Mr Jim Adams, former Vice President for East Asia, The World Bank at the 20 February Perspectives: Asia Seminar.

With East Asia’s sustained record of rapid economic growth and poverty reduction since the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, China’s impressive growth record and with most middle income countries in the region having generous access to the global capital market, the question of the World Bank’s role is not as obvious as it once was. Should the Bank continue with a program in China? What contributions can it make in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam? While the financial needs of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar are clear, is that a justification for the involvement of a global bank or can regional institutions fill the gap? Is the Bank interested in the challenges of the Pacific Ocean states?

In his presentation Mr Adams addressed how the Bank’s regional strategy has responded to these questions by summarising various aspects of the Bank’s programs. His presentation suggested that many of the global strengths of the Bank still remain important to East Asia.

Jim Adams retired a year ago after 37 years at the World Bank. His last assignment was as the Vice President for East Asia from 2007 – 2012; he also worked on East Asia in the early 1980s. He spent almost half of his career working on Africa, leading the Bank’s program as the Regional Director in Kenya in the late 1980s and as Country Director in Tanzania and Uganda from 1995-2002. From 2002 to 2007 he served as the head of operational policy in the Bank, overseeing a program directed at making the Bank more responsive to its clients needs.


(L. to R.) Mr Russell Storer, Curatorial Manager, Asian and Pacific Art, Gallery of Modern Art, Mr Jim Adams, former Vice President for East Asia, The World Bank and Ms Leneen Forde AC, Chancellor, Griffith University.

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