Asian lawmakers meet, focusing on economics

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Asian lawmakers meet, focusing on economics

To build cooperation and a stronger financial network among Asian countries, 24 lawmakers from seven countries attended the first Asian Parliamentarians’ Finance and Economy Conference at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul yesterday.

Hosted by South Korea’s National Assembly, the conference was held in hopes of creating a more stable financial foundation for Asian economies.

Parliamentary members from South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines were at the conference, as well as Chin Dong-soo, chairman of the Financial Services Commission; Chung Ui-hwa, vice speaker of the National Assembly; and Kim Jung-sik, president of the Korean International Finance Association, who was moderator of the event.

China pulled out during the organizing process.

The conference was part of a three-day event, which will finish today with a tour of Seoul for the visiting lawmakers.

Financial cooperation was the main focus of the conference, with the attendees touching on problems that Asian countries are facing in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008.

“Developing a financial safety net to protect the Asian countries’ economies from exterior shocks is an urgent task before us,” said Chin.

“A regional safety net, which has been in the planning process since the financial crisis of 1997 and a strengthening of financial cooperation must be continued,” he contined. “And efforts must be made so that the opinions and uniqueness of emerging countries are heard.”

Chin mentioned the Chiang Mai initiative and the Asian bond market initiative as examples of efforts to buttress the financial networks in Asia.

There was much discussion about the Chiang Mai initiative, a multilateral currency swap between the 10 Asean countries and South Korea, Japan and China that was launched in March with a foreign exchange reserves pool worth $120 billion.

Conversations over the limits of the Chiang Mai initiative led to talk of the possible founding of an Asian Monetary Fund, and discussions of several problems with the current International Monetary Fund and its role in the world economy.

“The standards that must be met to borrow from the IMF are immensely complex and the size of the fund itself is incredibly small compared to the fact that it has to support all the countries in the world,” said Chae Wook, president of the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.

The conference touched on the development of the Asian bond market, during which the role of the private sector was emphasized in the expansion of the market.

The meeting finished off with discussion of the development of investment banks in Asia. A day before, in an interview with the Korean JoongAng Daily, the co-chair of the conference, Grand National Party Representative Kim Young-sun, said the development of investment banks was a crucial step for Asian countries to take in order to mature financially.

By Christine Kim []
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