March 1, 2009 / 5:04 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-ASEAN leaders call for joint action on crisis

(Adds details)

HUA HIN, Thailand, March 1 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian leaders called on Sunday for coordinated policies and joint actions at the regional level to deal with a worsening global financial crisis that is battering their export-dependent economies, but did not spell out any specific actions the group would take.

“They also welcomed expansionary macroeconomic policies, including fiscal stimulus, monetary easing, access to credit including trade financing, and measures to support private sector ... to stimulate domestic demand,” said a statement due to be issued at the conclusion of a summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“Towards this end, they stressed the importance of coordinating policies and taking joint actions that would be mutually reinforcing at the regional level.”

The 10-nation grouping did not outline any specific policies or actions it would take on a regional level in the statement obtained by Reuters before the summit’s conclusion.

Asian economic growth is slowing rapidly as consumers and companies cut back spending amid the worsening global downturn.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore is already in recession and economists believe Malaysia and Thailand are on the brink, while Indonesian growth has slowed to its weakest pace in more than two years.

Many countries in the region have announced stimulus spending plans in a bid to stem the economic damage, but exports will not stage a major recovery until consumers in the West start spending again.

The ASEAN statement on the financial crisis also said the leaders:

* Agreed to stand firm against protectionism and refrain from introducing or raising new trade barriers

* Called for bold reform of the international financial system, taking into consideration the interests of developing countries

* Urged coordinated action by developed and developing countries to restore financial stability

* Welcomed the new Asian Bond Markets Initiative Roadmap to promote regional infrastructure financing

* Told ASEAN finance ministers to resolve remaining issues with an expanded $120 billion currency swap pool “to operationalise this arrangement expeditiously”. (Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Writing by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Kim Coghill))

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