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East Asian countries double size of crisis fund

Associated Press Modified: May 3, 2012 at 11:31 am •  Published: May 3, 2012

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Southeast Asian countries and their major trading partners China, Japan and South Korea agreed Thursday to double a regional financial crisis fund to $240 billion.

The fund, known as the Chiang Mai Initiative after the northern Thai city where it was conceived, is a collection of currency swaps set up as a safety net for Southeast Asia. Some 80 percent of the financial commitments for the fund come from China, Japan and South Korea.

Finance officials from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the three regional economic giants also agreed to increase the portion of the fund that countries can tap without a parallel aid package from the International Monetary Fund.

The proportion will rise to 30 percent this year from 20 percent and may be increased to 40 percent in 2014.

The finance ministers and central bank governors said in a joint statement that the agreement to boost the fund "will serve as another step forward to strengthen the regional financial safety net and to pursue sustainable growth in the region."

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