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Japan, ASEAN finance and banking chiefs plan talks at ADB meeting

Kyodo

Finance ministers and central bank governors from Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were set to agree on enhancing financial cooperation when they met Friday on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting.

With Japan looking to deepen economic ties with fast-growing Southeast Asian economies, it was expected to revive bilateral currency swap agreements with Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, and strengthen existing bilateral agreements with Indonesia and the Philippines.

These arrangements are aimed at supplementing the Chiang Mai Initiative, a safety net designed to address short-term liquidity problems in the event of a crisis.

The finance ministers of Japan and 10-member ASEAN last held talks in 1999.

Among other financial cooperation, the finance chiefs from Japan and ASEAN were expected to agree on promoting the use of local currencies in ASEAN countries by Japanese firms, and on the Finance Ministry’s purchase of bond exchange-traded funds in emerging Asian economies to boost bond markets in the region.

Japan was also expected to offer assistance for reforming financial systems in such countries as Vietnam and Myanmar.

To achieve tangible progress in financial cooperation, Japan was expected to agree with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand to set up bilateral working groups.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.