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Asian countries agree on regional foreign reserve swap
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Japanese Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga said he expected the swap to be operational as early as 2009.

"Next year when ASEAN+3 finance ministers' meeting will be held, I am sure that good framework will be made and maybe it would become possible to be implemented," Nukaga said, adding great efforts are still needed.

As another part of the efforts to strengthen regional financial cooperation, ASEAN+3 finance ministers said it would be indispensable to build a credible system to monitor the economic and financial situation of the member countries.

As a start, they agreed to implement measures to strengthen the current economic review and policy dialogue, such as increasing the frequency of the dialogues and developing a standardized format for the provision of necessary information data,.

"Such strengthened regional surveillance system will contribute to smooth and efficient decision making," the finance ministers said.

Ministers also gave an impetus to the development of the Asian bond markets, endorsing a new roadmap, which focused on four key areas, namely promoting issuance of local currency-denominated bonds, improving regulatory framework and improving related infrastructure for the bond markets.

This year, the ASEAN+3 finance ministers met at a crucial time when the world economy is facing serious downturn risks amid ongoing financial turmoil and surging oil and food prices.

"There are outstanding risks to the global economy including the financial market turmoil and inflationary pressures from food and energy. To overcome these risks, mutual support in this region is extremely important," Ninh said.

The finance ministers said while they remained positive about the long-term resilience of the global economy, the short-term economic prospects have weakened.

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