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17 Central Banks to Be Represented in Hong Kong

January 11, 1999|From Reuters

HONG KONG — Central bankers from several continents gathered Sunday to start the first governor-level meeting convened at Hong Kong's new regional office of the Bank for International Settlements. At least one delegation intends to raise the issue of creating a single Asian currency.

"The subject the governors will discuss is essentially whatever is on their minds," BIS General Manager Andrew Crockett told reporters in a media briefing during the weekend. "But we do expect to take a look at the world economic financial situation and at progress on strengthening financial systems, particularly in the emerging-market economies."

Joseph Yam, head of Hong Kong's de facto central bank, told reporters Sunday that he would raise the issue of a single Asian currency at the BIS meetings, which begin today.

"I suggest [a single Asian currency] as a long-term issue for consideration," Yam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, told reporters before the governors met for dinner Sunday.

"I'm not saying that I'm very supportive of this. I think if we do it now, we might not be successful. But it needs to be brought up for discussion," he added.

Of 17 central banks and monetary authorities who will attend the sessions, 11 are coming from the Asia-Pacific region, with Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, China, the Philippines, Thailand and host Hong Kong due to send delegates.

Also attending are central bank governors from Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Mexico and the Czech Republic as well as U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Wim Duisenberg, president of the European Central Bank.

Crockett told reporters that because the meeting was taking place in Asia, it was appropriate that it be a predominantly Asian grouping to discuss issues that are of direct concern to them.

At the same time, any regional grouping could benefit from outside perspectives on handling financial woes and from discussion of global economic concerns, he said.

"The European central banker and Mr. Greenspan will be able, especially with the [Bank of Japan], to represent the three main industrial country groupings . . . to provide the overall global context," he said.

There would also be two representatives from Latin America--Mexico and Argentina, "both of which have been through or that face issues that are comparable to those facing certain Asian countries."

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