ASEM Addresses Millennium Goals, Financial Crisis

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Oct. 27 – The Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) has issued the Beijing Declaration on Sustainable Development reviewing the status of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as addressing the current international financial crisis.

The meeting was attended by twenty-seven countries from the EU, 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), plus China, India, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan and South Korea.

Under the Beijing Declaration, leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the MDGs in addition to strengthening energy security cooperation, climate change, environmental protection and improving social cohesion under the framework of sustainable development.

More importantly, the meeting served to as a venue to discuss the current international financial crisis and the challenges it presents to Asia and Europe.

It was agreed that it would only be through concerted efforts that the crisis could be overcome. The international community should continue to coordinate financial measures to stabilize global financial markets and global economic.

When needed, leaders agreed that the IMF should step in to play a critical role in assisting countries seriously affected by the crisis. The leaders said that there was a need to improve the regulation of all financial players,particularly when it comes to accountability.

All countries were encouraged to practice sound monetary, fiscal and financial regulatory policies, while enhancing transparency, inclusiveness, strengthen oversight, and crisis management mechanisms. This move will serve to maintain each country’s own economic development and the stability of the financial markets as a whole.

Leaders also agreed to work within the ASEM framework and other cooperation efforts to improve information sharing and policy exchange on the management in the financial sector.

The last ASEM summit was held in Finland in 2006.There is a scheduled G-20 summit to be held in Washington on November 15 that should reassess the stability and development of the world economy.China has already agreed to attend the summit.

Currently, China holds the largest currency reserves in the world worth US$1.9 trillion while also holding U.S. government bonds. While no one is sure exactly what role China will play in stabilizing the international markets, the country is considered a critical player.

On the sidelines of the summit, ASEAN countries including China, Japan, South Korea have agreed to pool together a US$80 billion foreign-exchange reserve as a countermeasure to prop up Asian economies amid the global financial crisis.

Initially discussions revealed that Japan, South Korea and China would contribute 80 percent of the fund by June while the rest will be shouldered by the ASEAN countries.

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