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[News] Is Winter Coming To Indonesia?
Posted at: 05 November 2018

So, "winter is coming," as Indonesia's president Joko Widodo said in Bali during IMF meeting. Policymakers say each country should look first to its own defenses. They are right, but it may not be enough.

Asia has seen remarkably robust growth in the last two decades, with nominal GDP more than tripling and foreign exchange reserves soaring. But these reserves are unevenly distributed. China has around $3 trillion and Japan $1.2 trillion. That leaves the rest with less than $1 trillion.

So, in the event of a crisis too big for the CMIM, Beijing and Tokyo may come under pressure to provide emergency resources directly, if the crisis-hit countries want to avoid the IMF.

The current rapprochement between China and Japan, symbolized by the warm welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has received in Beijing, bodes well for the future -- not least in financial affairs. The enhanced $26.8 billion swap agreement between the People's Bank of China and the Bank of Japan will be an important step toward improving bilateral financial cooperation -- and eventually creating a safety net for the whole region.

Is winter coming to Indonesia? In the speech, Indonesia's president then drew raucous laughter with a further reference to the fantasy show's "Mother of Dragons" character - in a nod to IMF chief Christine Lagarde, who smiled broadly at the comment.

Ms Lagarde, who also spoke at the same event, acknowledged the global imbalances caused by trade, which despite having created prosperity, also caused a backlash, as too many people have been left out.

To cope with the changing economic landscape, she proposed a "new multilateralism", an international cooperation which is "more inclusive, more people-centred and more result-oriented".

Ms Lagarde cited an agenda to achieve Sustainable Development Goals as an example of where strong cooperation matters, as low-income countries need an extra US$520 billion (S$715 billion) each year for investment in vital sectors, such as health, education, water and infrastructure, by 2030.

"This partnership is integral to the new multilateralism - not least because tensions arising from exclusion and climate change do not respect national borders. In that sense, solidarity is self interest," she said.

(sources: Nikkei/Strait Times)