Asian finance chiefs discuss online cooperation amid pandemic

©Kyodo News

Asian finance chiefs held a videoconference Monday to discuss ways to enhance cooperation as well as to compare notes on their economies and how they have been impacted by the novel coronavirus with the global pandemic showing no signs of abating.

The finance ministers and central bank governors from Japan, China, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathered online on the sidelines of the three-day annual Asian Development Bank meetings that started in virtual format on the same day.

The finance chiefs from the 13 countries plan to issue a joint statement following the talks, according to Japanese government sources.

At the previous teleconference held in September, the ASEAN-plus-three countries decided to increase the operational flexibility of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization scheme, which came into force in 2010 to address balance-of-payment and short-term liquidity difficulties in the region in times of crisis.

The scheme evolved from the Chiang Mai Initiative, the first regional currency swap arrangement launched by the 13 Asian nations in May 2000 with the aim of preventing a repeat of the 1997 Asian currency crisis.

At its annual gathering, the ADB is expected to launch the Asia Pacific Tax Hub, which will be aimed at promoting knowledge sharing and strengthening cooperation on tax policy and administration, to enhance its support for developing nations in the region.

The new framework envisions providing an inclusive platform for policy dialogue among 68 ADB members and international institutions, such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The ADB talks were initially scheduled to be held in Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, but switched to virtual meetings due to the pandemic.

Earlier in the day, the finance chiefs of Japan, China and South Korea held a separate virtual meeting.

The 10 ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.