Japan, ASEAN finance chiefs to meet, to agree on boosting cooperation

Finance ministers and central bank governors from Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are set to agree on enhancing financial cooperation when they meet Friday on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank's annual meeting.

As Japan looks to deepen economic ties with fast-growing Southeast Asian economies, it is expected to revive bilateral currency swap agreements with Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, and will strengthen existing bilateral agreements with Indonesia and the Philippines.

These arrangements are aimed at supplementing the Chiang Mai Initiative -- a safety net designed to address short-term liquidity problems in the event of a crisis.

Finance ministers from Japan and 10-member ASEAN last held talks in 1999. The upcoming meeting in Greater Noida on the outskirt of New Delhi will be the first that central bank chiefs will join.

Among other financial cooperation, the finance chiefs from Japan and ASEAN are expected to agree on promoting the use of local currencies in ASEAN countries by Japanese firms operating there, and on the Japanese Finance Ministry's purchase of bond exchange-traded funds in emerging Asian economies to boost bond markets in the region.

Japan is also expected to offer assistance for reforming financial systems in such countries as Vietnam and Myanmar.

To achieve tangible progress in financial cooperation, Japan is expected to agree with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand to set up bilateral working groups.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.