South Korea pledges $600 mln for Asian infrastructure projects

South Korea on Tuesday signed a deal with the Asian Development Bank to provide $600 million in soft loans for major development projects in Asia over the next three years, the finance ministry said Tuesday.

The memorandum of understanding, signed in Seoul between Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan and ADB President Takehiko Nakao, makes it possible to tap Seoul’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund to finance infrastructure projects, the ministry said.

The EDCF is a state-run fund launched in 1987 aimed at helping poor and less-developed countries with loans that carry low interest rates. The fund has been used to support various development programs worldwide in the past.

The ministry said the latest arrangement with the ADB is ideal because it combines the financial institution’s considerable know-how in Asia with South Korea’s first-hand development experience.

“Support will be centered in such areas as farming, environmental management, public sector innovation and information, communication and technology,” the ministry said. “Special emphasis will also be placed on the development of clean, reusable energy, water management and transportation.”

The latest pact is the third of its kind following the pledge for $500 million from 2008 through 2010, and the $550 million offered by Seoul to the ADB from 2011 to 2014, according to the ministry.

The ADV president was in Seoul to attend an international conference on financial cooperation in Asia. In a keynote speech at the forum, Nakao stressed Asia-Pacific countries should push ahead with trade, investment and labor market reforms, and work together to strengthen financial ties. (Yonhap)

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