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Fending off economic crises
( 2003-11-03 09:07) (China Daily)

Regional monetary and financial co-operation in Asia, including the development of Asian bond markets, should be strengthened to enhance economic strength and reduce the risk of another Asian financial crisis, a senior Asian Development Bank (ADB) official said yesterday.

"Though the 1997 Asian financial crisis was over, new crises can occur without much warning in an increasingly integrated global economy," said Yoshihiro Iwasaki, head of ADB's regional economic monitoring unit.

More efforts need to be made in monetary and financial co-operation in the region, though some real progress has been made since the 1997 crisis, Iwasaki said at a panel session of the Boao Forum for Asia.

His colleague Joseph Eichenberger, ADB's vice-president, elaborated the major challenges existing in the region's co-operation at yesterday's session with a topic of "Searching for a breakthrough in Asian financial co-operation."

The first challenge is to deepen and strengthen domestic financial sectors across Asia, especially the need to further reduce non-performing loans and move assets off public balance sheets.

Another challenge is to achieve a greater consensus about the desired relationship between regional arrangements and those that already exist at the global level.

Meanwhile, "a key challenge going forward is for the countries of the region to reach a deeper consensus around their objectives and aspirations for moving financial co-operation onto the next plane," Eichenberger said.

Since the crisis broke there has been a fundamental tension between different views as to its most basic roots, he explained.

"It is of great value and importance, for the region and globally, that the Asian countries have themselves created new mechanisms and new instruments through which to pursue and ultimately resolve these challenges," he said.

Speakers at the panel discussion also stressed the importance of government policy support in regional monetary and financial co-operation.

"Strong political will is needed," said Iwasaki, who is echoed by Rafael Consing, head of HSBC's debt finance (Southeast Asia) department.

"Policies are in financial co-operation, especially in the development of a regional bond market," Consing said.

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