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 10 Apr 2009

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Asean agrees on swap fund contributions

Southeast Asian nations on Thursday finalised their contributions to a multi-billion-dollar emergency currency swap fund to help out struggling nations, Thailand's finance minister was quoted by AFP as saying.

Asian countries agreed at a meeting in February to increase the planned foreign exchange pool from $80 billion to $120 billion to fight the global downturn but have not given a date for setting it up.

The foreign exchange pool functions as an emergency credit line for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and will be created with assistance from China, Japan and South Korea.

"We are pleased to announce that individual contributions for Asean member countries have been finalised," Thai finance minister Korn Chatikavanij told a press conference ahead of a major Asian summit.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand would each contribute $4.76 billion for the fund while Philippines would contribute $3.68 billion, he said.

The other five members - Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam - would contribute according to their reserves.

Asean is contributing 20 percent of the $120 billion while China, Japan and South Korea - who are set to attend the three-day summit starting on Friday in Pattaya - will put in the rest.

They agreed to set up a bilateral fund after the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis to prevent a repeat of the turmoil but now want to expand it to a multilateral reserve pool.

Korn, meanwhile, said that Asean's key priorities were to enhance regional financial stability and further integrate its markets to achieve its goal of creating an EU-style community by 2015.

The meeting also welcomed the recent G20 plan to tackle the world recession, he said.

The 10-member Southeast Asian grouping has suffered badly from a collapse in exports to major trading partners including the United States, Europe and Japan as the world economy slows.

The Pattaya summit will be followed by a so-called Global Dialogue in Bangkok on Sunday attended by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the chiefs of the IMF, World Bank and the World Trade Organisation.




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