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Indonesia wants closer Europe ties JAKARTA - A two-day meeting of European and Asian finance ministers has called for closer economic ties between the two regions as they struggle to shake off the impact of war, terrorism and SARS. The fifth Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM), hosted by Indonesia on the resort island of Bali, was officially opened by Indonesia's top economics minister Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti and Finance Minister Budiono.
President Megawati Sukarnoputri, which had been scheduled to open the meeting, pulled out at the last minute due to "unexpected circumstances", Kuntjoro-Jakti said. But in an opening address read by Kuntjoro-Jakti, Megawati said the global economic outlook remains sober, with growth forecasts for Europe being cut, a slower-than-expected recovery in Asia's biggest economy Japan and only moderate growth in East Asia.
"Now, perhaps more than ever before, Asia and Europe must work together to combat poverty and improve economic stability," Megawati's opening address said. She said that for developing countries, good governance was critical for good partnerships, while for developed countries the main challenge was to provide market and trade-related access to help poor countries relieve their debt burdens. "We need to put that challenge into a real action; otherwise we will never reach our objective," she said.
She proposed a Bali Initiative under which European and Asian countries would cooperate in training finance ministry and central bank staff. She also welcomed the 40 recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), urging all countries to show a "commitment to implementing those recommendations to guarantee that the financing of terrorism and money laundering practices would have no room to evolve in our regions."
Germany and Malaysia will on Sunday speak on the need to develop a global standard to fight abuses of the world financial system. The agenda for the closed-door meeting also includes discussion on the outlook for the global, East Asian and European economies, combating poverty and enhancing financial cooperation between Asia and Europe. However, while observers are looking for news on the ongoing debate over China's yuan reevaluation it is not expected to feature in the talks, delegates said.
"Because the yuan is tied to the US dollar and the dollar is depreciating, our exports are suffering," said Budiono at a press conference after the opening ceremony. "This is affecting our competitiveness in the global market, but it will not be discussed at this meeting," he added. China is under political pressure to ease its tight controls on the yuan to enable it to rise to better reflect market forces such as strong foreign investment inflows and speculation of a reevaluation.



Posted in Politics @ 07 July 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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