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Eurasia Battles Financial Crisis
Special> Eurasia Battles Financial Crisis
UPDATED: November 3, 2008 NO.45 NOV.6, 2008
A Tale of Two Continents
Eurasian countries unite to seek a way out of the global financial crisis

The international community needs more and better coordination to ensure transparency and confidence in the market, said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

The financial crisis summit to be held in Washington, D.C. on November 15 should try to establish basic principles for the international financial system such as transparency, integrity and cross-border supervision, he said in a speech at the China National School of Administration, a training center for Chinese government officials, before the ASEM summit opened. The next stage, he added, should include reforms of international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund.

Europe could propose a future supervisory framework for the financial sector to put large financial institutions under the supervision of international organizations, Lei said. It may also advocate reforms of the international monetary system by underlining the role of "a basket of currencies" to change the dominance of the dollar, he said.

Unlike Europe, which was badly hit in the financial crisis, Asian countries have yet to come up with a collective plan to address the crisis, he said. With their huge reserves of dollar assets, however, emerging Asian economies are having an increasingly greater say in the international financial market.

European leaders took the ASEM summit as an opportunity to seek Asian support, something that highlighted Asia's importance to the world's financial stability, Lei said.

On the sidelines of the summit, leaders of China, Japan, South Korea and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations reached an agreement to create an $80 billion joint fund by next June to defend regional currencies.

Because Asian countries have not purchased large quantities of the corporate securities issued by U.S. financial institutions, the financial crisis will not have severe consequences for their financial industries, but may make an impact on their real economies, Lei said. Since it will take time for them to feel this impact, the ASEM summit sent a signal that Asian countries would strengthen their cooperation to address potential harm, he said.

Leaders at the summit expressed their support for the global summit next month to address the current financial crisis, reform of the international financial system and long-term stability and development of the world economy, according to the Statement of the Seventh ASEM on the International Financial Situation.

They agreed to make full use of ASEM and other cooperative mechanisms to enhance information sharing, policy exchange and pragmatic cooperation on supervision and management in the financial sector to ensure sustained, stable and sound economic growth, the statement says.

China: eager to share

Wen said the ongoing credit crunch only has a limited impact on China's financial sector, because China is opening up its financial sector in a steady way and the sector is therefore not fully exposed to the global market.

China adjusted its macroeconomic policies in June by giving top priority to stable economic growth, he said. It also has taken a series of measures to expand domestic demand, especially consumer demand. There is a great potential for increasing domestic demand in China because the country's rural areas and western regions are far less developed than its urban areas and eastern regions, he said. The premier said he is confident about the fast and stable development of the Chinese economy.

While maintaining fast economic growth and steady development of the financial sector, China faces a host of difficulties and challenges amid the spiraling international financial crisis, said Chinese President Hu Jintao at the opening ceremony of the ASEM summit.

"China is a developing country with 1.3 billion people, and the Chinese economy is increasingly interconnected with the global economy," Hu said in his keynote speech. "China's sound economic growth is in itself a major contribution to global financial stability and economic growth. That is why we must first and foremost run our own affairs well."

Given the changing economic conditions at home and abroad, China would make its macroeconomic policies "more proactive, focused and effective," he said.

China has been eager to share its economic growth with the rest of the world, said Chai Yu, a research fellow at the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. While developing an export-oriented economy, China has seen its imports increase dramatically in recent decades. In this sense, Chinese economic growth contributes to world economic growth, she said.

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