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November 21, 2008

Asean+3 talk $80bn fund expansion, decision pending
Finance and central bank officials from 13 Asian nations on Thursday discussed expanding a $80 billion currency swap pool to protect the region from the global financial crisis, but it was not clear if any decisions were taken, reported Reuters.

Officials from Japan, South Korea and China met Southeast Asian counterparts at a closed session in the Philippine capital Manila to discuss the pool of currency swap lines called the Chiang Mai Initiative.

Philippine Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran told reporters the fund would be enlarged and said the increase would at least double the amount. But other officials said no final decisions were taken.

"What I understand is that the member countries plan to hold more discussion on that idea at next week's meeting between deputy ministers in Japan," said a senior official at South Korea's Ministry of Strategy and Finance, who declined to be identified.

An official from the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) secretariat also said the proposals were still being discussed.

"We are still discussing whether we could accommodate this proposal," the official said.

The initial $80 billion pool was agreed to by the 10 Asean nations and its three partner nations at a meeting in Beijing in October.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) groups Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Brunei.

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