Japan, ASEAN countries mull ways to counter financial crises

Top financial leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations met with their counterparts from Japan, China and South Korea on Friday to discuss ways to improve cooperation to cope with financial crises.

At the gathering in Yokohama on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank's annual meeting the finance ministers and central bank governors discussed revisions to the Chiang Mai Initiative, a multilateral currency swap arrangement set up to act as a "safety net" in times of financial turmoil.

The initiative was established after the crash of the Thai baht in 1997 triggered a regional financial crisis.

Twenty years after the Asian Financial Crisis and 10 after the start of the global crisis, financial leaders are taking stock and looking for ways to minimize risks and fortify their financial systems.

A statement said Japan proposed during the meeting that a yen-based fund be created to provide up to $40 billion under existing bilateral currency swap agreements.

Also Friday, Japan signed a bilateral currency swap agreement for up to $3 billion with Thailand and reached agreement on a similar pact with Malaysia.

In a separate "trilateral" meeting, Japan, China and South Korea agreed to cooperate to counter financial disruptions from geopolitical risks and to counter trade protectionism.


AP Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach contributed from Tokyo.