幸いイギリスの The Economist 誌が，アジアにおける日本の役割の重要性を提起していますから，ご紹介しておきたいと思います．日本がアジアの一員となる大切な機会と考えるからです．
Neighbourliness in Asia
Nov 17th 2008
From the Economist Intelligence Unit ViewsWire
Asian countries lend each other a financial hand
On the sidelines of the G20 summit, China, Japan and South Korea on November 14th said they would expedite a joint effort among Asian countries to help each other weather the global financial storm. Their decision to bolster the existing regional currency-swap arrangement was, like the G20 communiqu itself, only an agreement in principle lacking the nitty-gritty details. But the renewed push for the so-called Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) by three of Asia's biggest economies means that this brainchild of the regional financial crisis of 1997-98 may at last live up to its promise.
Reeling from a sinking currency and shrinking foreign-exchange reserves, South Korea reached out to China and Japan for concerted action. In Washington, Seoul obtained Beijing's and Tokyo's consent to consider bigger limits for bilateral currency swaps among them. (The current amount between South Korea and Japan is US$13bn, and between South Korea and China is US$3bn.) And the three countries pledged to expand similar co-operation with the ten members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
No more faceless international bureaucrats
Under the CMI, launched by ASEAN+3 in May 2000, participating countries can draw on each other's reserves to cover sudden outflows of foreign currency that can seriously destabilise the domestic economy. The idea is that, with closer regional co-operation, Asian countries need not go hat in hand to the IMF or World Bank. During the Asian financial crisis, many Asians felt that they had to sacrifice the independence of their domestic economic policymaking to faceless international bureaucrats.
Indeed, Asian central banks today collectively hold US$3.3trn, or 46%, of the world's international reserves, according to IMF figures. China and Japan alone are sitting on US$2.7trn. Asian economies are also the world's biggest creditors, with the region's central banks holding US$1.3trn, or 48%, of the US government's US$2.7trn in Treasury securities, according to the US Department of Treasury.
But CMI funds remain puny. In May Asian leaders agreed to expand the total from US$6bn to US$80bn, comprising 16 bilateral swaps among eight countries. This is equivalent to only about 2.4% of the region's international reserves. Luckily, no government has yet been forced to tap the CMI. If global economic health continues to deteriorate, however, Asian countries will be glad that they decided to fortify further their financial vaccine now.
The finance ministers of China, Japan and South Korea have proposed to iron out the details of the expanded bilateral currency swaps at a workshop on macroeconomic stability and finance in Tokyo on November 26th. Key issues will include the size of the swaps, activation procedures, and better economic and financial monitoring. Adapting their scheme to a larger multinational setting could follow in early 2009 in consultation with ASEAN members.
The Fed's example
Though the CMI remains unproven, government-to-government swap agreements can be a powerful tool to counter market instability. Just ask South Korea, which saw the won's precipitous slide temporarily reverse in early November after the US Federal Reserve said it would extend a US$30bn swap until April 30th 2009. (Singapore also concluded a pre-emptive US$30bn currency-swap agreement with the Fed.)
The G20 gathering also made it clear that this time the world as a whole must prevent a global economic calamity. No country alone is strong enough to ride to the rescue. In fact, this is a moment many in Japan and China have been waiting for. They have been itching to show that their economic diplomacy can match their financial weight in the world. And Asia is the obvious place to translate all the rhetoric into action. Watch the CMI's progress for an early glimpse of the new global economic order.