Pacific financial leaders consider ways to curb inflation

BANGKOK – Finance ministers from the major Pacific economies pledged to fight inflation and focus spending on supporting sustainable growth at a meeting in Bangkok on Thursday ahead of a summit next month.

Asked about possible disagreements over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Thai finance minister, who hosted the meeting, acknowledged that among senior officials at the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, which includes Russia and many other Asian countries belong, give “different views”. pacific nations.

China, another APEC member, is among countries that have failed to join the US and many Western nations in condemning the attack and urging Russia to withdraw.

But Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said Wednesday and Thursday’s discussions focused mainly on economic issues and how to deal with the fallout from the crisis.

“The only thing we can do is understand that the situation has already happened,” Arkhom said. “The consequence of the situation, that’s what we have to solve together, especially the implications for the majority of people, especially for the vulnerable groups.”

APEC economies are focused on finding ways to help people cope with rising prices from the fallout from the pandemic and war in Ukraine, he said.

A statement issued by the meeting called an “unprecedented risk” as central banks scale back stimulus and raise interest rates to bring inflation down to a decade high.

The tightening of monetary policy comes at a time when one of the biggest drivers of global economic activity, China, is grappling with sharply slowing growth and a downturn in the real estate sector.

It has also strongly boosted the value of the US dollar against many other currencies. This has increased risks for financial markets, pushed up the cost of debt repayments and made imports of food, oil and other essential commodities painfully expensive for many economies.

A Western official who attended the talks but spoke on condition that he not be named to brief reporters on the closed-door meetings, said improving supply chain security was a key theme of the two-day meeting .

One of the main questions raised was whether multinationals were likely to move their factories outside of China to reduce the risk of the kind of disruptions that have emerged in recent years from the pandemic and other problems, the official said.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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