22 Feb 2009

Asian ministers to consider expansion of currency swap scheme

11:50 am on 22 February 2009

Expansion of a regional currency swap scheme will be considered by Asian finance ministers in Thailand this weekend to protect their economies from the global economic downturn.

Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Japan, China and South Korea are to meet on the island of Phuket on Sunday.

Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said last week the meeting would discuss raising the size of the fund from $US80 billion to $US120 billion.

In May last year, ASEAN members and Japan, China and South Korea agreed on bilateral currency swap arrangements that could be tapped in emergencies.

Under the agreement, Japan, China and South Korea would provide 80% of the funding and ASEAN countries the rest.

The expansion will have to be ratified by regional leaders at a summit meeting from 27 February - 1 March. It could be implemented by the end of the year.

The ministers are also expected to discuss other forms of cooperation to bolster the region's defence against the global crisis.

The ASEAN group consists of: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.