ASEAN-plus-3 to boost cooperation to strengthen Asian bond markets

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Japan, China and South Korea held a financial chiefs meeting in the Kazakh capital on Saturday aiming to boost cooperation in strengthening Asian bond markets to help prevent a recurrence of the Asian currency crisis.

The financial ministers and central bank governors are also expected to address concerns about an economic slowdown in emerging economies in the wake of the U.S. Federal Reserve's tapering of its large-scale asset purchases.

At the meeting held on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank's annual conference, the financial chiefs are likely to confirm the need to help businesses procure funds and increase transactions in local currencies by expanding a credit guarantee capacity for corporate bonds through a fund known as the Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility.

In a statement to be released after the meeting, they are expected to endorse a decision made last November to more than double the credit guarantee limit to $1.75 billion.

As massive outflows of U.S. dollar-based capital triggered the 1997 to 1998 Asian currency crisis, the development of resilient local currency bond markets has been a long-term challenge in the region.

Also on the agenda is a plan to link each nation's fund and securities settlement systems to help enhance the safety and convenience of transactions and spur investment.

The ASEAN-plus-three consists of the 10 ASEAN members -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- plus Japan, China and South Korea.