APEC economies are focused on finding ways to help people cope with high prices in the aftermath of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
Thai Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith speaks during a press conference at the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, October 20, 2022.
Credit: AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit
Finance ministers from major Pacific Rim economies pledged on Thursday to fight inflation and target spending to support sustainable growth at a meeting in Bangkok ahead of a summit next month.
Asked about possible disagreements over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Thailand’s finance minister, hosting the meeting, acknowledged there were “different opinions” among senior officials at the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which includes Russia and many other Asian countries. Pacific nations.
China, another APEC member, is among the countries that have refrained from joining the US and many Western nations in condemning the attack and calling on Russia to withdraw.
But Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said discussions on Wednesday and Thursday focused mainly on economic issues and how to deal with the ramifications of the crisis.
“The only thing we can do is make us understand that the situation has already happened,” Arkhom said. “The consequence of the situation, that is what we must work together to solve, particularly the impact for the majority of people, especially for vulnerable groups.”
APEC economies are focused on finding ways to help people cope with high prices from the fallout from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, he said.
As is often the case in international meetings where consensus has proven elusive, the finance ministers did not issue a statement as usual. Instead, Arkhom issued a statement from the president.
He cited “unprecedented risk” as central banks roll back stimulus programs and raise interest rates to cool inflation to multi-decade highs.
The monetary policy tightening comes at a time when one of the biggest drivers of global economic activity, China, is facing a sharp slowdown in growth and a downturn in its real estate sector.
It has also driven the value of the US dollar considerably higher against many other currencies. That has heightened risks for financial markets, inflating the costs of debt payments and making imports of food, oil and other commodities painfully expensive for many economies.
On Thursday, the dollar briefly traded above 150 yen, adding to expectations that Japan may try to stem its slide past a 32-year low by intervening in the market. That’s a far cry from the days when Tokyo faced criticism for trying to prevent the yen from strengthening to gain a competitive price advantage for Japanese exports.
The APEC president’s statement said members had recognized that “excessive volatility or disorderly movements” in exchange rates can harm economic and financial stability.
At the same time, they pledged to refrain from adjusting exchange rates “for competitive purposes.”
A Western official who attended the talks but spoke on condition of anonymity to brief reporters on the closed-door sessions, said improving the security of supply chains was a major theme at the two-day meeting.
One of the main questions raised was whether multinational corporations would likely move their factories out of China to other APEC economies to help reduce the risk of the kinds of disruptions seen in recent years due to the pandemic and other issues, the official said. . .