JICA-World Bank Seminar on Japan-World Bank Collaboration for World Development Report (WDR) 2009 "Reshaping Economic Geography"


On November 26, 2008, at the JICA-RI building, JICA and the World Bank co-hosted a seminar on World Development Report (WDR) 2009, subtitled "Reshaping Economic Geography." The WDR 2009 was largely inspired by East Asia's rapid economic growth, which has been characterized by spatial integration of coastal economic agglomerations with less developed inland areas. JICA-RI was actively involved in planning the WDR 2009 and contributed papers and case studies to the report.

The seminar commenced with opening remarks by JICA-RI's director, Dr. Keiichi Tsunekawa. Dr. Tsunekawa expressed his enthusiasm for continuing the research collaboration between JICA and the World Bank. Mr. Kiyoshi Kodera, Executive Secretary of the World Bank/IMF Development Committee, similarly voiced his expectation for JICA-RI before summarizing the 30-year history of the WDR.


In Session 2, Dr. Indermit Gill, Chief Economist of the World Bank for Europe and Central Asia and also Director of the World Development Report, outlined the contents of WDR 2009 as follows:
- No country has achieved growth without concentrating economic activities in its leading centers (higher densities), improving access to the economic centers (shorter distances), and reducing the cost of trade and capital flows (fewer divisions).
- Spatial integration of leading economic centers with less developed rural areas can alleviate growth imbalances between them and facilitate inclusive development.
- In promoting spatial integration, three 'I' s are necessary: Institutions to support the movement of labor and capital, Infrastructure to connect centers and rural areas, and targeted Interventions.


Session 3 featured presentations by the authors of papers that were contributed to a WDR 2009 companion volume titled "Changing Economic Geography in East Asia". Dr. Yukon Huang of the World Bank emphasized the strong explanatory power of the WDR 2009 framework with respect to East Asia and he depicted China's successful shift from a spatially balanced development strategy to one focused on coastal areas as a typical case. Professor Nobuaki Hamaguchi of Kobe University argued that traditional paradigms for East Asian development, such as the "flying geese" pattern, have yielded to a new scenario wherein agglomeration economies and regional integration work as the driving forces for development, and furthermore that the role of government has changed accordingly.

Ms. Megumi Muto of JICA-RI emphasized the importance of rural road infrastructure, demonstrating that improved connectivity to growth centers by enhanced road quality has had positive impact on household incomes in rural Indonesia.

Professor Keijiro Otsuka of GRIPS/FASID referred to the effectiveness of policies that promote the development of industrial agglomerations and multifaceted innovations. Professor Akihiko Ono of Aoyama Gakuin University, taking up the example of rural hand-weaving clusters in Laos, illustrated that traders who are familiar with trading customs and information in both urban and rural areas contribute to the development of rural clusters by reducing transaction costs.

In Session 4, Professor Masahisa Fujita, WDR advisor and President of the Research Institute of Economy, Trade & Industry (RIETI), emphasized the importance of introducing the notion of "location" into economic theory by the New Economic Geography. Mr. Hiroto Arakawa, JICA Senior Special Advisor, referred to the implications of the WDR for actual ODA operations. Mr. Arakawa emphasized the importance of connectivity-improving infrastructure and inclusive development, and he expressed willingness to tackle the issue of spatial integration by effectively utilizing yen loans, grants and technical assistance schemes.

The Seminar was attended by many ambassadors, scholars, staff members of international organizations and officials of the Japanese government who engaged in lively discussion.

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