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APEC Ministers Report Good Progress On Reform

APEC Finance Ministers Report Good Progress On Reform, Growth

New Zealand Treasurer Bill English today reported a return to economic growth in the APEC region and reinforced the importance of continued strengthening of markets to maintain this progress.

As Lead Chair of the APEC Finance Ministers, Mr English released a Memorandum to APEC Leaders and the reports of APEC Finance Ministers. These cover work since the last APEC Leaders meeting in Kuala Lumpur, and include a report on progress with reform of the global financial system. Leaders will consider these reports when they meet in Auckland later this week.

"These reports cover a broad agenda and record considerable progress among individual APEC economies, within APEC collectively, and in the broader debate about strengthening the global system," said Mr English.

"The reports emphasise · the return of growth to many of the economies worst affected by the Asian Crisis and a marked improvement in other affected economies, and · continued strong economic performance in the US, China and other APEC economies, and good prospects for future growth in the region as a whole.

"The cooperative growth strategy announced last year by APEC leaders has involved tough choices for some of the APEC economies, but it is showing results.

"The biggest risk to sustained recovery would be loss of momentum. Maintaining the commitment to policy adjustment and reform, particularly in the corporate and financial sectors, remains a high priority for APEC Finance Ministers.

"The work programme overseen by APEC Finance Ministers, outlined in my Memorandum to the APEC Leaders, helps build the foundations for stronger financial markets in APEC economies.

"There is an emerging consensus about the key elements of a strengthened financial system and we look forward to the continuation and evolution of the dialogue begun last year. APEC is well represented on groups that are examining the key issues, which include the role of hedge funds and highly leveraged institutions (HLIs), the effect of volatile capital flows, and the role of offshore financial centres.

"For New Zealand as a small trading nation, this work is important because 70% of our goods exports are to APEC countries. Anything we can do to help growth in the economies we trade with helps jobs in New Zealand.

"APEC finance officials will also be taking part in a working group involving the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, to address the vital issue of strengthening social safety nets to protect the poorest and most vulnerable in our societies.

"The last year has seen a marked improvement in economic prospects in APEC. We have weathered the worst of the Asian crisis and have come through it with stronger economies, better equipped to sustain economic growth and deliver higher standards of living for people in our region.

"The work of APEC Finance Ministers in the year ahead aims to build on the achievements of this year," said Mr English.


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