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The Asian Development Bank is expected to take up issues of regional concern, including the U.S. economic slowdown and the yen’s weakness, at its annual meeting next week, Japanese government sources said.

The ADB will also focus on reducing poverty and promoting information technology in the Asia-Pacific region as major topics at its three-day gathering, which starts Wednesday in Honolulu.

Japan, which will be represented by one of its two senior vice finance ministers, is poised to reiterate its policy of actively supporting developing nations, they said.

They also said there are likely to be calls for an early economic recovery in Japan as that would have a positive impact on the entire region.

Asian economic growth is expected to slow to 5.3 percent this year from 7.1 percent due to lower demand for exports, the ADB said last month.

The U.S. Commerce Department said April 27 that U.S. gross domestic product rose to an annualized 2 percent in the first quarter of 2001 from a 51/2-year low of 1 percent in the preceding quarter. This, however, is still well below the 4.8 percent growth posted a year earlier.

Participants in the ADB meeting will also assess the effects of the U.S. slowdown on regional economies.

The yen’s weakness is also expected to be addressed as many Asian countries fear a weaker yen will put their export industries at a disadvantage and damage their overall economies, they said.

Finance ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations voiced concern about the yen’s weakness at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur in early April.

On the sidelines of the ADB meeting, ASEAN finance ministers will hold talks with their counterparts from Japan, China and South Korea to flesh out their plan to forge a currency swap network to nip future financial crises in the bud.

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

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