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Staff writerKAKEGAWA, Shizuoka Pref. — Asian nations need to transcend narrow national interests and act as a region to overcome the current economic slump, Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos said in a keynote address here Friday.”We must reinforce Asian solidarity … because each of our countries, regardless of size and population, is not capable to deal with the rest of the world by itself,” Ramos said in the opening speech for the two-day symposium, “In Search of a New Path for Asia: A Message from Shizuoka.”Ramos commended and encouraged Japan’s continued banking and financial reforms. He also said an Asian response to the current economic crisis is in order and expressed confidence that with reforms under way, the region will bounce back.There is no alternative to regionalism for Asia, Ramos said, advocating a strengthening of the region and modernization based on Asian values, such as honor, perseverance and resourcefulness.While conventional economic prescriptions, such as those of the International Monetary Fund, are being reevaluated, “It is urgent and imperative that we seriously search for a new path for our respective economies and the entire region — and that we do the searching together,” Ramos said.Questions that need to be addressed include short-term capital movements and how to maintain the stability of exchange and interests rates, he said.To successfully address these issues, Asian nations will need to undertake cooperative activities that go beyond traditional frameworks, such as coordinating macroeconomic policy and sharing economic information, he said. “Because this financial — and now economic — crisis took root in Asia, the first step toward its resolution must come from our Asia-Pacific region,” Ramos said, adding that as the crisis has become global, policies to address it must also be international in scope.The current crisis has illustrated that some control on the flow of capital will likely be necessary on portfolio capital, Ramos said, adding, “I would favor keeping wide open the door to foreign direct investment while setting up discreet and cautious controls on portfolio investment.”

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