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Phuket to host ASEAN+3 finance ministers meeting



BANGKOK: Phuket will host a meeting of finance ministers of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its three East Asian partner nations of Japan, China, and South Korea (ASEAN+3) on February 22 to discuss joint efforts to revive the regional economy.

The meetings will take place at at the Sheraton Grande Laguna Phuket, the Gazette has learned.

Thailand’s Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said he and the South Korean finance minister would co-chair the meeting, to be attended by the ASEAN secretary- general and the president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The meeting is designed to encourage greater financial cooperation, strengthen relations amid the global financial crisis, respond to the lack of stability in financial markets and deal with oil price fluctuations, he said

Member countries will discuss and exchange views about the global economy, regional economic situation, and the stimulus measures of the member countries, Mr Korn said.

The meeting plans to draft a joint policy to counter the economic downturn and find ways to lead ASEAN+3 to become a world economic powerhouse, he added.

At the meeting, the ASEAN+3 finance ministers will also discuss the progress of the Chiang Mai Initiative, a program of financial cooperation launched in 2000.

One issue on the agenda was how to expand the Chiang Mai Initiative from bilateral cooperation into multilateral cooperation in terms of funding to support member countries suffering liquidity problems, he said.

Meanwhile, Fiscal Policy Office director-general Somchai Sujjapongse said the meeting would discuss the plan to set up a Chiang Mai Initiative fund of contributions from member country reserves.

The amount is expected to be increased from the originally planned US$84 billion to US$120 billion, he said.

The Bank of Thailand (BoT) will initially contribute US$4 billion to the fund, he added.

As for funding, China, Japan and South Korea would together hold a total of 80% of the stake as they have larger reserves. The remainder of the contributions levied would be from the ASEAN member countries themselves, Mr Somchai said.

A development plan for the Asian bond market would also be discussed. A statement issued at the conclusion of the meeting will be discussed at the ASEAN summit in Hua Hin February 27 to March 1, Mr Korn said.



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