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 2 Apr 2009

G-20 Summit: Thai PM warns of over-ambitious goals

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva cautioned Wednesday against over-ambitious aims at the G20 summit in London but said Southeast Asian nations would strongly back a coordinated fiscal stimulus, reported AFP.

Abhisit, who will attend the summit as the current head of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) bloc, warned that Thursday's one-day meeting was at risk of trying to achieve too much.

"It is a very ambitious agenda... but we are here to voice the issue of priorities," he said in a speech in London. Comparing the crisis-hit world economy to a building in flames, Abhisit said: "The building is still on fire and there are still some people left inside.

"We need first to put out the fire and get the people out. That should be the priority." British-born Abhisit said ASEAN supported calls by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and US President Barack Obama for a fiscal stimulus -- a move strongly opposed by some European nations such as France and Germany.

Asia recommended stimulus measures because it could draw on its own experience of the 1997 Asian crash, he said, echoing comments made Wednesday in the Financial Times by Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso.

"But we still need to set clear targets, including the size of such a stimulus," Abhisit said. Asean, which includes countries heavily dependent on exporting manufactured goods such as Vietnam, also wants to see the Group of 20 industrialised and developing nations take a strong stance on preventing protectionism.

Abhisit said that while world leaders publicly voiced opposition to protectionism, "the reality is that 40 or more cases of protectionist measures have been adopted since the (G20) Washington meeting" in November.

The Thai prime minister said Southeast Asian nations strongly backed moves to reform global institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).




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