1 Mar 2009

ASEAN agrees measures to ease economic crisis

6:58 pm on 1 March 2009

Leaders of Southeast Asian nations agreed to ease monetary policy and resist protectionism as they concluded a summit overshadowed by the worst financial crisis in decades.

The 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations issued a statement welcoming expansionary macroeconomic policies, including fiscal stimulus, monetary easing, access to credit and trade financing, and measures to stimulate domestic demand.

"Towards this end, they stressed the importance of coordinating policies and taking joint actions that would be mutually reinforcing at the regional level."

The statement did not provide any specific policies or actions ASEAN planned to take on a regional level.

The statement also said the leaders agreed to stand firm against protectionism and refrain from introducing or raising new trade barriers.

They also called for "bold and urgent reform" of the international financial system, taking into consideration the interests of developing countries.

ASEAN signed a Free Trade Agreement with New Zealand and Australia at the meeting in Thailand's royal seaside resort of Hua Hin on Friday.

ASEAN officials have argued against protectionism but have defended their own buy-local campaigns, saying they are consistent with trade rules.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and the Philippines.