The finance ministers of the ten ASEAN members countries and three dialogue partners – China, Japan and the Republic of Korea – convened in Hanoi on May 4 to discuss how to further strengthen regional financial cooperation and address challenges for the region.

During the one-day meeting, the ministers exchanged views on recent global and regional economic development and policy management, and reviewed progress of the regional financial cooperation since their last meeting, including the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM), the Asian Bond Markets Initiative (ABMI) and the ASEAN+3 Research Group.

“We endorsed the ‘Operational guidelines for Enhancing Effectiveness of CMIM’, which is the operational manual for the currency swaps made pursuant to the CMIM Agreement, including the CMIM’s activation process in relations to the existence of the IMF Programmes,” said the joint ministerial statement issued at the end of the meeting, which was occasioned by the ongoing 44 th annual ADB meeting in Hanoi.

They believed these guidelines will contribute to swift and smooth activation of the CMIM Agreement, it added.

The ministers welcomed the establishment of AMRO, which, as the surveillance unit of CMIM, plays an important role to monitor and analyse regional economies, and to contribute to early detection of risks, swift implementation of remedial actions, and effective decision-making of CMIM, the statement said.

“We expect AMRO to be fully operational soon and are committed to promote the smooth and efficient operation of AMRO,” it said.

They welcomed establishment of the Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility (CGIF) last November with an initial capital of 700 million USD as well as progress of ASEAN+3 Bond Market Forum (ABMF), a common platform to foster standardization of market practices and harmonisation of regulations relating to cross-border bond transactions in the region.

The ministers acknowledged that the Research Group has played an important role in identifying and exploring subjects for possible regional financial cooperation from mid- and long-term points of view by mobilising the knowledge and expertise of private research institutions, the statement said.

“We recognised that ASEAN+3 financial cooperation has presented significant achievements under such initiatives as CMIM, ABMI, ERPD and Research Group. We noted the work of the Taskforce on the Future Priorities of ASEAN+ Financial Cooperation in assessing previous achievements and proposing new priority areas in order to bring regional financial cooperation to a higher and more strategic level,” it said, adding they tasked deputies to initiate studies, with support from ADB as appropriate, in three possible areas for future cooperation – infrastructure financing, disaster risk insurance and using local currencies for regional trade settlement.

The meeting agreed to invite central bank governors to join the meeting and the gathering would then become “ASEAN+3 Financial Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting” from next year.

The next meeting will take place in the Philippines in 2012 with co-chairs Cambodia and the Republic of Korea. /.