Voice of Asia: Asian leaders to meet in Thailand
ASIAN leaders will seek to assert a key role in a new world economic order this week at the first major international summit since the G20 unveiled a landmark recovery plan for the global recession.
The summit starting Friday (April 10) in Thailand will give the region of nearly three billion people a chance show its clout after last week’s meeting in London, which raised hopes for an era of economic cooperation and reform.
But the export-driven region must also find new strategies to shore up its own tanking economies, as the twin threats of mass unemployment and social unrest loom.
In addition to the economy the leaders are also set to discuss North Korea’s launch of a long-range rocket, and deadly border clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops.
“The voice of Asia needs to be heard,” said Chalongphob Sussangkarn, a former Thai finance minister who is now at the Thailand Development Research Institute.
“We (Asia) are the biggest creditor in the world. East Asia needs to take an active role in the reform of the global financial architecture.”
The three-day summit in the resort of Pattaya will group the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus those of regional partners India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organisation will attend a related summit in Bangkok on Sunday (April 12).
Asia is a key example of what British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described last week as the “new world order”, backed by a Group of 20 communique saying it would take the developing world more into account.
“Coming just after the G20 summit, the meetings in Thailand should be a chance for Asia to assert its influence on global affairs, particularly in efforts to fight the economic crisis,” said the diplomat, asking not to be named.
He cited China's promise at the G20 to contribute $40bn (£27bn) to the International Monetary Fund, which he said would increase Beijing's voting powers in the multilateral body.
The summit, delayed from December last year by political chaos in Thailand, will also be the first real chance for Asian nations to look to each other for help.
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