The 12th ASEAN Finance Ministers' Meeting, which was opened by Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister, Nguyen Sinh Hung, and chaired by Finance Minister Vu Van Ninh, closed on Friday, April 4th, 2008.
In a 20-point joint statement issued at a press conference Friday evening, the ASEAN Finance ministers re-affirmed their commitments to boost financial co-operation in the region, and to realise the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015, thereby meeting the target set by the AEC Plan of Action, approved by ASEAN leaders in November 2007 in Singapore.
The joint statement said the ministers had discussed the external challenges to the region arising from financial market turbulence, volatile capital flows and the possibility of a more prolonged and sharper global slowdown.
They also discussed rising global commodities and energy prices, and noted the importance of strengthening ASEAN's regional initiatives on food and energy security to safeguard the region's sustained economic growth and development.
The ministers had a productive dialogue with the Asian Development Bank president Haruhiko Kuroda and World Bank managing director Juan Jose Daboub, and appreciated their continued support of ASEAN's economic integration.
The statement said that since the adoption of the Roadmap for Monetary and Financial Integration of ASEAN in 2003, ASEAN had strengthened regional financial resilience and enhanced its risk management capacity.
To support the AEC goals of freer capital flows and the vision of an interlinked ASEAN securities market, ASEAN officials have been asking the private sector to distil the key issues that have impeded capital market development.
On establishing market links, the financial ministers agreed on the usefulness of working with bond information providers to facilitate the widest possible dissemination of ASEAN bond market data in order to enhance international investors' interests.
The ministers also noted the harmonisation initiatives to develop ASEAN and Plus Standards to facilitate greater efficiency in the cross-border issuance of equity and debt securities in order to strengthen the attractiveness and competitiveness of ASEAN as a fund-raising centre.
The statement said that the ministers had committed to liberalise key financial service sectors by 2015, towards the ASEAN Leaders' objective of achieving the AEC.
Capital Account liberalisation is important to promote growth and to support regional economic integration. The ministers therefore reaffirmed their commitments to further liberalise capital accounts at a pace that would ensure maximum benefits while providing adequate safeguards against macro-economic instability.
The ministers noted the progress made under the ASEAN Strategic Plan of Customs Development, and the establishment of the ASEAN Single Window.
They also agreed on the importance of facilitating infrastructure financing across the region.
The ministers acknowledged that climate change would greatly affect all countries in ways that would be detrimental not only to the environment, but also to the economy, especially concerning future economic growth.
The Finance ministers agreed to organise the fifth Investors Seminar in Dubai in October 2008, to further promote ASEAN as an attractive investment destination.
They will also actively participate in the implementation of ASEAN Investors' seminars during the ADB annual meeting in Bali in May 2009.
The joint statement said that ASEAN benefited from a constructive dialogue with the private sector on furthering regional financial co-operation and integration.
The ministers appreciated the contributions of the ASEAN Secretariat towards regional financial co-operation and the integration process, and recognised the need to strengthen the ASEAN Secretariat's Finance and Macro-economic Surveillance Unit.
(Source: Viet Nam New; VietnamNet Bridge, April 7, 2008)