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HA NOI, VIET NAM - Viet Nam has sharply reduced poverty and improved living standards over the past two decades and progressed towards Middle Income Country status, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) fully supports its drive to create sustainable growth that benefits all, ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said in Ha Noi today.

He was speaking during a three-day visit to Viet Nam ahead of ADB's upcoming Annual Meeting of Board of Governors, which will run from May 3 to 6. This is the first time the event is being held in the country.

"Viet Nam is one of ADB's founding members and a very strong partner in the region's development and we are grateful to the Government for hosting our 44th Annual Meeting. I am pleased Viet Nam will host the Annual Meeting which will be timely for Viet Nam and ADB," said Mr. Kuroda.

Mr. Kuroda met with senior leaders including Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem, and State Bank of Viet Nam Governor and Chair of the ADB's Board of Governors for this year's Annual Meeting Nguyen Van Giau.

Viet Nam has been one of the fastest expanding economies in Asia over the past 20 years, driven by exports, foreign investment, and a growing private sector. Poverty levels have fallen from over 58% in 1993 to just about 10% by the end of 2010. It has rallied quickly from the global financial crisis, supported by timely stimulus measures.

The country has also played an important role in the ADB-supported Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation Program. As one of just two countries in the six-nation GMS group to have links to all three economic corridors under the program, it has helped foster trade, tourism, and investment across the region.

"The GMS program has become a showcase for regional cooperation and Viet Nam has been an enthusiastic partner," said Mr. Kuroda.

Looking forward, Viet Nam's ascension to Middle Income Country status signals a bright future, but in the short term it is facing challenges to macroeconomic stability, such as high inflation. This will require some policy adjustments, Mr. Kuroda said, adding that further economic reforms, such as those being carried out in the state-owned enterprises sector, are also necessary to secure longer term inclusive growth.

About 3,000 participants, including heads of state, finance ministers, central bank governors, and representatives from the private sector, academia, media, and civil society are expected at the Annual Meeting, which will examine contemporary developments issues facing Asia and the Pacific.

Source: ADB

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