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26 October 2009

Asean seeks to play a role in G20

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Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are seeking representation in the G-20 Summits to be able to present their collective view in addressing the impact of the global financial crisis and provide a regional approach to prevent recurrence of the turmoil, reported the Business Mirror, a Philippine newspaper.

At the same time, they expressed optimism that the implementation of the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) by January 1, 2010, will help member-countries sustain growth amid the global crisis.

At the conclusion of the 15th Asean Summit in Hua Hin, Thailand, over the weekend, the leaders agreed to continue to carry out domestic stimulus packages to ensure sustained recovery from the harsh impact of the global turmoil, particularly on developing countries.

The regional bloc also expressed support for the G-20 statement in September endorsing key reforms in the international financial institutions (IFIs) to ensure their transparent and efficient management, as well as reflect the voice of developing countries.

“We emphasised the need to strengthen regulatory reform to prevent the recurrence of financial and banking failure,” said the Asean Chair’s statement issued over the weekend.

“We agreed that the Asean chair and the Secretary-General of Asean should be invited to participate in future G-20 Summits so that Asean can present its collective views as well as ensure close coordination between its regional approaches and the global approach undertaken by the G-20,” the leaders stressed.

Also as part of the regional stimulus package, the Asean leaders directed their respective finance ministers to coordinate with their counterparts in the Asean dialogue partners China, Japan and South Korea, to implement the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation by the end of 2009.

The Chiang Mai Initiative creates bilateral swap arrangements (BSAs) among the Asean Plus Three countries (China, Japan and South Korea) to manage regional short-term liquidity problems to help the economies cope with the impact of the global financial crisis.

Last February, the Asean Plus Three countries agreed to raise a $120-billion fund, of which 80 percent will come from the East Asian giants Japan, China and South Korea.

Meanwhile, Asean leaders also expressed optimism that the implementation of the Asean Free Trade Area by January 1, 2010, is well on track, and will help member- countries sustain growth amid the impact of the global turmoil.

The regional free trade deal provides that all tariffs for products in the CEPT Inclusion Lists of the six original signatories to the CEPT Agreement—which represent 99.65 percent of total tariff lines—would be eliminated for intra-Asean trade.

“These account for 87.2 percent of total intra-Asean imports. The remaining Asean members would also not be far behind as 98.86 percent of their products have tariffs within the 0-5 percent range.”

“The effective implementation of this major milestone in Afta brings Asean closer to the Asean Economic Community where free flow of goods is one of its major objectives,” said the Asean leaders.


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