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Asian countries to pay $80b for foreign reserve swap
Updated: 2008-05-05 08:57

MADRID - Finance ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as China, Japan and South Korea agreed Sunday on the minimum scale of a regional foreign reserve swap.

 Asian countries to pay $80b for foreign reserve swap

Finance ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as China, Japan and South Korea meet in Madrid on May 4, 2008. [Xinhua]

"We also agreed that the total size of the multilateralized CMI would be at least US$80 billion," finance chiefs from the 10-member ASEAN and three East Asian countries said in a joint statement after concluding a meeting under the framework called ASEAN+3 here on Sunday.

Of the total amount, Japan, China and South Korea would contribute 80 percent, while ASEAN countries pay the remaining, according to the statement.

"I am glad to inform that the 11th ASEAN+3 finance ministers' meeting has come to a successful conclusion," Vietnam's Finance Minister Vu Van Ninh, who co-chaired the meeting with his Japanese counterpart, said at a press conference.

CMI, or Qing Mai Initiative, is a regional financing arrangement agreed by the 13 countries in 2000 to swap foreign exchange reserves, mainly on bilateral basis, in order for use when necessary to fight against speculative attacks on their currencies.

It was aimed at preventing a recurrence of the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis.

The multilateralized CMI is the next step, as has been mapped out at the last ASEAN+3 meeting of finance ministers in Japan's Kyoto last year, which would be moving from the previous bilateral system to a multilateral one. It would be a self-managed reserved pooling arrangement governed by a single contract.

After more than one year in the making, Ninh said the 13 finance ministers also agreed on key concepts of the borrowing accessibility, the activation mechanism and other elements.

"Based on the progress made thus far on some of the key elements of the multilateralism of the CMI, we are committed to further accelerate our work in order to reach consensus on all of the elements," the finance ministers said.

Japanese Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga said he expected the swap to be operational as early as 2009.

"Next year when ASEAN+3 finance ministers' meeting will be held, I am sure that good framework will be made and maybe it would become possible to be implemented," Nukaga said, adding great efforts are still needed.

As another part of the efforts to strengthen regional financial cooperation, ASEAN+3 finance ministers said it would be indispensable to build a credible system to monitor the economic and financial situation of the member countries.

As a start, they agreed to implement measures to strengthen the current economic review and policy dialogue, such as increasing the frequency of the dialogues and developing a standardized format for the provision of necessary information data.

"Such strengthened regional surveillance system will contribute to smooth and efficient decision making," the finance ministers said.

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