Boosting jobs and growth will beat poverty
Countries in Asia have achieved average economic growth rates of 5% over the past 20 years, which has allowed them to make significant progress in reducing absolute poverty. However, economic growth has not been inclusive enough and has not necessarily been matched by job creation – nor has it eliminated child poverty or gender inequality.
Institutional weaknesses, natural disasters and poor infrastructure continue to hamper economic development in Asia. Further reductions in poverty and greater progress towards the Millennium Development Goals will require more sustained growth and increasing integration into the world economy.
EC programmes to promote sustainable growth
The Regional Strategy Paper for EU-Asia Cooperation [77 KB] (2007-2013) identifies trade and business as a major sector in need of support.
Regional support for business and industry focuses on sustainable consumption and production as a way of protecting the environment and tackling climate change. The new Sustainable Consumption and Production Programme (SWITCH Asia) focuses on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
- More information on SWITCH
The Asia-Invest Programme established in 1995 promoted the internationalisation of European and Asian SMEs. It supported exchange of experiences, networking and matchmaking among European and Asian business organisations as a way of integrating companies and transferring know-how and technology.The programme funded partnership projects between intermediary business organisations in the EU and Asia, helping them to benefit from trade and economic liberalisation. Around € 87 million co-financed more than 320 projects.
The Asia Trust Fund (ATF) started in July 2004 and ended in December 2007 with a total budget of € 5 million of which € 4,5 million was contributed by the European Commission. ATF was implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC). It provided rapid delivery of short-term trade-related technical assistance in response to immediate needs identified by national governments or regional organisations.
The ASEM Asia Financial Crisis Response Trust Fund (ASEM Trust Fund) was established following a decision of the ASEM Summit held in London on 3-4 April 1998. The trust fund had been established as a multi donor facility and was managed by the World Bank with the EC as largest donor. The second phase was completed end 2006. The total budget counted up to € 60 million.
The aim of the Asia IT&C Programme was to create enduring technological and economic relationships between Asia and Europe. Between 1999-2005, the programme funded mutually beneficial projects for innovation in information technology and communication. The experience and achievements of these projects remain useful to others working in the same field. In total, €39 million was spent on 134 projects.