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NHA TRANG — ASEAN finance ministers yesterday agreed that the Southeast Asian region will grow between 4.9 and 5.6 per cent this year, from 1.5 per cent last year.

This was reached at the 14th annual meeting of ASEAN Finance Ministers under the chairmanship of Vietnamese Finance Minister Vu Van Ninh.

The ministers agreed that ASEAN had emerged in good shape despite the unprecedented crisis in the global economy, reflecting the region’s continued dynamism.

Favourable conditions and pro-business policies from each country had cushioned ASEAN economies from the impacts of the external shocks and helped to re-attract investments quickly, they said in a joint statement.

They assessed the progress of commitments to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015, including significantly strengthened financial systems and achieving financial stability in the region, the entry into force of the US$120 billion swap facility under the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM), the establishment of the CMIM regional surveillance unit early next year and the establishment of the Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility (CGIF) in May this year to deepen local currency bond markets in the region.

The ministers expressed their determination to work together to enhance the competitiveness and depth of ASEAN financial markets. They committed to financial integration under the AEC Blueprint, particularly in the areas of capital market development, financial service liberalisation and capital account liberalisation.

In order to enhance the region’s competitiveness in the global arena, work was underway to create brand recognition for ASEAN products, lift standards of regulations, build mutual and global trust in ASEAN standards through mutual recognition regimes and facilitate inflows and access into outer markets.

The “ASEAN and Plus Standards” for multi-jurisdictional offerings of securities have been adopted in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

The ministers also reached agreements in enhancing regional surveillance and financing infrastructure projects and customs integration. They called on the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to continue to support stronger regional co-operation through initiatives and commitments that would contribute to sustained recovery and balanced growth.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung met with World Bank Managing Director Juan Jose Daboub.

Hung thanked the WB for its assistance over the past years and stressed that it had provided financial consultation, supervision and assistance to Viet Nam and sent experienced experts to help the nation, ranging from macro economic restructuring to equitisation and building laws on banking and credit organisations.

With the WB’s help, Viet Nam had been able to invest in poverty reduction, health care and education, resulting in high growth and better living standards for all people, he added.

Hung said that Viet Nam was restructuring its macro-economy, thus, from now to the end of the year, the country would seek advice from financial and monetary organisations to build its economic development plan for the next five years.

He said that Viet Nam was implementing three big programmes on sea dykes, river dykes and other flood prevention tools.

Juan Jose Daboub believed that Viet Nam would successfully reach its targets in the future, promising that the World Bank would assist the country in the process.

The WB remained the country’s good partner, bringing it the most efficient advice as well as large financial resources, he added. Earlier, Hung met with Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Naoyuki Shinohara. — VNS

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