ACIAR’s program in the East Asia region is the largest of the four regions where it operates. It has programs in ten countries:
- Lao PDR
East Asia has the fastest growing economy in the world, and has lifted much of its population out of extreme poverty over the last few decades.
Nevertheless, some 90 million people still live in extreme poverty and another 300 million remain vulnerable. Rural poverty exists in less developed countries like Laos and Timor-Leste and even in better performing countries like Indonesia and Thailand.
In 2015 the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) created a single market and production base called the ASEAN Economic Community, which allows the free flow of goods, services, investments and skilled labour, and the freer movement of capital across the region. With over 600 million people, ASEAN’s potential market is larger than the European Union or North America, and it has the second largest young labour force after China and India.
ACIAR has a relatively small percentage of projects in the region (12% of budget), reflecting its strong bilateral relationships with East Asian countries. Several factors drive the continued development of regional projects in East Asia:
- Increasingly, expertise developed in one country is mobilised to help other countries in the region.
- Our work with some countries in the region is predicated on the projects being regional, rather than confined to one country only.
- ACIAR and a developed country in the region fund trilateral projects that support agricultural research and development (R&D) in third countries.
- ASEAN’s drive towards regional integration and connectivity is likely to increase demand from countries and regional bodies for research support that addresses agricultural issues affecting several countries (e.g. biosecurity and food safety).
- Reduce rural poverty and the adverse effects of climate change on the rural poor
- Improve the sustainability of agricultural production
- Make crops, fisheries and livestock more productive and resilient
- Increase agricultural diversificationImprove the livelihoods of smallholders and create linkages to market
- Improve market competitiveness and integration of products