Peter Costello

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Eighth APEC Finance Ministers' Meeting

NO.067

Eighth APEC Finance Ministers' Meeting

The Eighth APEC Finance Ministers' Meeting in Suzhou, China on 8-9 September, provided an important opportunity for regional Finance Ministers to discuss developments in the international economy and the outlook over future years. There was extensive discussion about the downturn in the United States, Japan and Europe and the recession in a number of the Asian economies. Whilst there has been a serious downturn over the course of this year, Ministers were optimistic about prospects for a recovery in 2002.

Trade liberalisation remains central to the achievement of sustainable increases in economic growth and living standards. At the meeting, Finance Ministers called for continued structural reform of APEC economies and urged prompt policy responses in dealing with the current slowdown of the global economy. Ministers also received a report from the IMF on progress on the reform of international financial architecture.

Finance Ministers have undertaken a wide range of measures aimed at promoting good governance, transparency and better prudential supervision. Australia's commitment to supporting this ambitious agenda of structural reforms and capacity building is reflected in our leadership of three initiatives. Finance Ministers endorsed the report of the Australian chaired Task Force on Company Accounting and Financial Reporting, which aims to promote better accounting and auditing practices in the region leading to improved financial information for investors. The Australian led life insurance and pensions initiative, which is in its second year, continues to provide training to regional regulators, while Australia's newest initiative, the APEC Economic Leaders' Think Tank, held its first meeting in Sydney this year.

There was a discussion led by Australia on the topic: "Promoting economic growth on a fair and equitable basis against the background of globalisation". We emphasised the importance of ensuring that the current debate about globalisation is based on a rigorous analysis of its impact, highlighting in particular the emerging weight of evidence that, over the last thirty years, a commitment to open economic development, backed by sound macroeconomic policies, strong institutions and effective social safety nets, has been a powerful force for growth, improved global income equality and poverty alleviation.

The meeting also provided an opportunity for the APEC Financiers Group (AFG) and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) to give their views to Finance Ministers. ABAC provided a useful perspective on the promotion of international standards in financial markets. Finance Ministers also welcomed a survey by ABAC that will identify business impediments to further growth. This will prove useful in assisting national financial associations' needs for future development.

SUZHOU, PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

9 September 2001

9 Sep 2001

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