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ASEAN Plus Three vows to boost financial ties amid pandemic

Updated: May 03,2021 21:21 PM    CGTN

Finance ministers and central bank governors from ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea vowed on May 3 to strengthen regional financial cooperation while providing continued support for countries hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a joint statement issued after a virtual meeting on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) annual meetings, the ministers pledged to achieve inclusive recovery, preserve long-term fiscal sustainability and maintain financial stability.

Responses to the coronavirus crisis, universal health coverage, climate change, high-quality infrastructure and debt transparency and sustainability in emerging Asia will top the agenda at the ADB gatherings, said Japan's finance minister, Taro Aso.

"We expect a rebound in 2021 as the recovery gathers momentum and vaccine rollouts allow a gradual opening up of our economies," the statement read. "The recovery appears uneven across and within countries, and subject to possible elevated risks including the spread of new variants and different paces of vaccination."

China, Japan and South Korea said they would explore "new initiatives" to strengthen the regional financial safety net at the virtual meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

ASEAN includes Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines, while the ASEAN Plus Three cooperation includes the aforementioned countries in addition to China, Japan and South Korea.

The financial chiefs vowed to use all policy tools to ensure a sustainable economic recovery, and to gradually normalize expansionary policy while mitigating risks of a fiscal cliff.

Aso told reporters it was significant that the regional financial leaders "reaffirmed the importance of financial cooperation."

The financial chiefs from ASEAN Plus Three promised at their last virtual meeting in September to boost the Chiang Mai Initiative Multi-lateralization (CMIM).

The CMIM plays a crucial role in supporting regional financial stability by allowing the member economies, which include the ASEAN Plus Three and Hong Kong, to tap currency swap lines and secure currencies in need.

The regional financial leaders also underscored their commitment to backing open and rules-based multilateral trade and investment in the region.

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