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 27 Mar 2009

Asean finance chiefs to meet on reserves, FX swap scheme

Finance ministers of Southeast Asia will look at how to manage their foreign reserve stockpiles and discuss details of a currency swap scheme at a meeting next month to help protect the region from the global economic slowdown, reported Reuters.

The finance chiefs of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will meet in the Thai beach town of Pattaya on April 9 to discuss greater cooperation, the Thai government said in a statement on Thursday.

"The meeting will focus on investment, with the idea that the group's rising international reserves should be invested in Asia instead of in Western countries," Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij told reporters.

The ministers would discuss the development of regional infrastructure under the Asean Infrastructure Financing Mechanism, Korn said. The investment could initially be done through the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Asean deputy ministers, senior officials and central bank deputies will meet in Pattaya from April 6-8, and heads of government hold a summit meeting there from April 10-12.

Korn said the finance ministers would discuss details of the expanded currency swap scheme agreed last month in Phuket to help support their currencies in the global slump.

Asean plus China, Japan and South Korea agreed to set up a multilateral swap fund totalling $120 billion -- up from the $80 billion proposed last year under the so-called Chiang Mai Initiative -- that could be tapped in emergencies.

"We will discuss details of the swap scheme among our group before a meeting in Bali," Korn said of a meeting scheduled for May, possibly to coincide with the annual meeting of the ADB.

Japan, China and South Korea will contribute 80 percent of the funding and Asean countries the rest. Korn did not say how much Thailand itself would contribute. On Wednesday Thailand's parliament agreed that the Finance Ministry could have up to $5 billion for the swap scheme.




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