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Finance ministers of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum agreed Friday in Bali to take measures to facilitate infrastructure investment to boost growth in some economies, particularly emerging ones, amid the weak global economic outlook.
"Our actions at this meeting, particularly our agreement to facilitate infrastructure investment, demonstrate our willingness to cooperate to achieve reforms for stronger, more sustainable and more balanced growth," the APEC ministers said in a joint statement at the end of their two-day talks at a beach resort.
The agreement came after Indonesia, the chair of this year's APEC forum, urged member nations to come up with initiatives to deal with the current global economic upheaval.
"The expectation that we produce is partly driven by the fact that we are meeting at a time where the challenges facing our economies are considerable," Indonesian Finance Minister Chatib Basri told his APEC counterparts earlier in the day.
The finance chiefs shared a common understanding that the global economic outlook suggests growth is likely to be slower and less balanced than desired despite strengthening private demand in the United States and the picking up of growth in Japan.
To boost investment, the ministers stressed the need for the implementation of structural reforms that, according to Basri, will build "strong fundamentals to support our economies."
At a joint press conference, Basri said Indonesia exchanged experiences with other member economies "about the way they conducted structural reforms in mitigating the turbulence" and agreed "to continue with structural reforms and try to improve some issues related to fiscal balance."
Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said that while the current world economy has gradually bottomed out and the situation is heading in the right direction, the negative impact of the international financial crisis has still not eliminated, with some new complicated factors emerging.
"Due to external shocks, frankly speaking, there may be some problems of liquidity, and some ministers said that multinational swap arrangements may be put into practice" to support developing economies, he said.
In order to meet infrastructure needs in the region, the APEC ministers said it is necessary "to enhance private sector participation in infrastructure projects."
They said they are "are committed to supporting this by taking further actions to improve the investment climate."
"The world is now looking to see whether the APEC region, given its size and the role it plays in the global economy, can demonstrate its capacity to recover from economic fluctuations, and support the global economy by sustaining its own growth," Basri said.
The ministerial gathering took place two weeks after the leaders of the Group of 20 leading economies, at their summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, reiterated the need for industrialized countries to flexibly promote fiscal consolidation to prevent a recurrence of shocks such as the eurozone sovereign debt crisis.
Following the conclusion of the ministerial meeting, four APEC members Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea, signed a statement of intent relating to the Asia Region Funds Passport scheme.
Initiated by Australia, the scheme will provide a multilaterally agreed framework allowing the cross-border issuing of funds across participating economies throughout Asia.
According to the APEC finance ministers' joint statement, the statement of intent is a framework document that sets out its voluntary guiding principles and basic arrangements.
The four countries will become members of a pilot group launching the passport with expectations that other members will eventually follow.
APEC consists of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.
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