World Bank president says Arab world `underserved'


Wed, Oct 10, 2007 - Page 6

World Bank president Robert Zoellick said Arab countries have been "underserved" by the development lender and that he wants to develop an initiative to get more involved in the Arab world, according to an interview published in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

Zoellick also said that the bank will continue to lend to middle-income countries like China, Brazil and India despite criticism of the practice because a large majority of the world's poor live in those countries.

"There are some 70 percent of the poor in middle-income countries. If we are going to deal with the poverty agenda, we need to be engaged with these countries," he told the Journal, ahead of a major policy address planned for tomorrow.

"[Also] if you look at what's happening in the fields of diplomacy and political and security affairs, one of the big challenges is how we integrate the Indias, the Chinas and the Brazils in the multilateral system," Zoellick said.

"It strikes me as illogical that you would be trying to engage them in creating a new multilateral order, and not do it in the multilateral economic system," he said.

"This is a set of countries [that have] probably been underserved by the bank, and so what I'm trying to identify is how can we work with some of these governments and the private sector to create additional opportunity and development," he said.