The Leaders of the ten ASEAN Member States gathered in Beijing at the sidelines of the 7th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) to exchange views on the current global financial crisis and explore ways to prevent its spreading to ASEAN economies.

The Leaders were confident that ASEAN’s financial sector remains solid and sound.  Close consultations and coordination among members are firmly in place and the stand-by liquidity is available to respond to any emergency need.  Nevertheless, precautionary actions are needed to send a clear and unequivocal signal that ASEAN is resolute and better prepared than 10 years ago when the financial crisis hit the region in 1997.  They agreed on the importance of ASEAN continuing its economic integration and cooperation to pursue economic growth and development.

The Leaders agreed that the multi-lateralised reserve pooling arrangements under the Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) should be intensified and expedited.  They also agreed that the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors set up a Working Group in cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat to study proposals from the Philippines, Thailand and the ASEAN Secretary-General that were discussed at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers who met prior to this Meeting.  The Philippines offered to host a Working Group meeting in order to come up with concrete recommendations for action by the Leaders at the upcoming Summit in Thailand in December 2008.

The Leaders also urged officials to implement recommendations from the Informal ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Dubai on 7-8 October 2008 including a setting up of a new high-level Macroeconomic and Finance Surveillance office in the ASEAN Secretariat.

The Leaders look forward to a positive response from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, when they meet tomorrow, to intensify efforts to expedite the CMI and to join the proposed Working Group to study proposals dealing with the global financial crisis and its impact on the region.