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SEAsia finance minister to meet in Bali on joint rescue funds
May 3rd, 2009

BANGKOK, May 1, 2009 (AFP) – Regional finance ministers are to meet on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank gathering this weekend to formally announce the setting up of joint funds to beat the global economic crisis.

Ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus key partners China, Japan and South Korea, will meet May 2-3 on the Indonesian island of Bali, said Somchai Sajjapongse from Thailand’s fiscal policy office.

“On May 2 there’s going to be a meeting of deputy finance ministers and on May 3 the ASEAN + 3 finance ministers will meet,” Somchai told AFP.

The meeting would formally announce the establishment of a regional emergency fund, he said.

The “Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation” is an expansion of the Chiang Mai Initiative — a bilateral currency swap scheme set up after the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis.

Under the new scheme, the swaps will be multilateral, making it easier for countries under stress to borrow emergency funds.

“Since the last meeting the ministers have agreed on the main elements of (it) and expect to have a conclusion at the Bali meeting,” he said.

Ministers plan to expand the fund from the original 80 billion dollars to 120 billion dollars, with China, Japan and Korea collectively providing 80 percent of the monies.

Of the three key partners, “China and Japan are competing to be the main contributor but the final decision is going to be on third of May,” Somchai added.

The ADB and ASEAN + 3 would also establish a credit guarantee investment mechanism to guarantee corporate bonds within the ASEAN +3 countries, with an initial capital of 500 million dollars, Somchai said.

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