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Asian countries agree on regional foreign reserve swap
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Finance ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as China, Japan and South Korea agreed yesterday on the minimum scale of a regional foreign reserve swap.

"We also agreed that the total size of the multilateralized CMI would be at least US$80 billion," finance chiefs from the 10-member ASEAN and three East Asian countries said in a joint statement after concluding a meeting under the framework called ASEAN+3 yesterday.

Of the total amount, Japan, China and South Korea would contribute 80 percent, while ASEAN countries pay the remaining, according to the statement.

"I am glad to inform that the 11th ASEAN+3 finance ministers' meeting has come to a successful conclusion," Vietnam's Finance Minister Vu Van Ninh, who co-chaired the meeting with his Japanese counterpart, said at a press conference.

CMI, or Qing Mai Initiative, is a regional financing arrangement agreed by the 13 countries in 2000 to swap foreign exchange reserves, mainly on bilateral basis, in order for use when necessary to fight against speculative attacks on their currencies.

It was aimed at preventing a recurrence of the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis.

The multilateralized CMI is the next step, as has been mapped out at the last ASEAN+3 meeting of finance ministers in Japan's Kyoto last year, which would be moving from the previous bilateral system to a multilateral one. It would be a self-managed reserved pooling arrangement governed by a single contract.

After more than one year in the making, Ninh said the 13 finance ministers also agreed on key concepts of the borrowing accessibility, the activation mechanism and other elements.

"Based on the progress made thus far on some of the key elements of the multilateralism of the CMI, we are committed to further accelerate our work in order to reach consensus on all of the elements," the finance ministers said.

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