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Debt crisis dominates Asia-Europe finance talks

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Arab Today, arab today Debt crisis dominates Asia-Europe finance talks

Bangkok - AFP

Finance officials from Asia and Europe expressed fears Monday of further turmoil in world markets but said the eurozone was set for a gradual recovery from its debt crisis. The talks in Bangkok follow signs that Asia -- for years seen as a bright spot in a gloomy world economy -- is increasingly feeling the strain from Europe\'s financial turbulence. \"Acknowledging the mutual interdependence of their economies, ministers expressed their concerns over the risks created by volatile financial and commodity markets that would potentially impact both Asia and Europe,\" according to a statement issued by host Thailand after the talks. \"Global growth has decelerated with substantial remaining uncertainties and downside risks,\" it said. But officials also \"expect that the European economy will gradually recover from the current crisis and welcomed the actions taken to address this crisis that will also mitigate its impact on the rest of the world,\" it added. With Europe gearing up for a crunch summit on Thursday, many countries sent vice finance ministers to attend the two-yearly meeting in Bangkok, which sets the scene for an Asia-Europe (ASEM) summit in Laos next month. EU economics chief Olli Rehn struck an optimistic tone, saying Europe had developed an \"effective and flexible toolbox\" to tackle the debt crisis. \"Concerning the European economic situation, I am today less pessimistic than, say, during the spring,\" he told reporters. \"We are working on several fronts to advance decisive policy action,\" he said, crediting a \"wave of reforms\" in EU member states to shore up their public finances and promote economic growth. \"We have an effective and flexible toolbox for short-term stabilisation at our disposal,\" he added. Rehn cited the entry into force of the European Stability Mechanism, a 500-billion-euro ($630 billion) war chest, as well as the European Central Bank\'s pledge to buy eurozone government bonds as reasons for optimism. He said Spain was making progress in tackling its debt problems, as Madrid keeps world markets guessing about whether it will request a full bailout in an attempt to resolve its financial crisis. The ECB has outlined a plan to buy Spanish bonds on the open market to curb interest rates, but only if Madrid applies for a financial lifeline and submits to strict conditions from European bailout funds. \"Spain is -- in terms of the efforts of a return to recovery and reforming its economic structures -- on the right track, even though I know that the current situation is very difficult for many Spanish citizens,\" Rehn said. Hopes that Asia\'s economies would largely shrug off the West\'s economic troubles have been doused by a slew of weaker-than-economic data in recent weeks. As powerhouses China and India slow more than many had expected, the Asian Development Bank and International Monetary Fund both recently lowered their growth estimates for the region\'s emerging economies. The IMF said last week that growth for developing Asia would come in at 6.7 percent this year and 7.2 percent in 2013, compared with July\'s estimate of 7.1 percent and 7.5 percent. \"With the ongoing economic difficulties of some countries in the eurozone, I believe that our cooperation is even more crucial than ever,\" Thai Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said. \"Because Asia and Europe are closely knitted in terms of international trade and investment, one spark of crisis could cause turmoil in the other side of the world,\" he added.

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Arab Today, arab today debt crisis dominates asiaeurope finance talks Arab Today, arab today debt crisis dominates asiaeurope finance talks


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