Mar 21, 2015 7:01 AM

Southeast Asia makes vital push in banking integration

The Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) Southeast Asian nations Saturday wrapped up a key agreement allowing qualified banks to operate freely in each other's countries in a push toward greater financial and economic integration.

The regional banking integration framework is part of efforts to create an economic community by the end of the year, making the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations a single market and production base.

ASEAN finance ministers and central bank governors said in a joint statement after a two-day meeting that qualified ASEAN banks can now operate with greater market access and be accorded flexibilities similar to those of domestic banks in the host country.

They said this will help accelerate the pace of regional financial integration and boost cross-border trade and investment.

"It took us five years from conception to operationalize this. This is very exciting. This is something concrete, it's a major progress for ASEAN," Malaysian central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz told reporters.

Zeti said allowing qualified ASEAN banks to operate as a domestic bank across the region will help to deepen trade and investment links to "unlock potential growth" in the region. Inter-regional trade is already on the rise, accounting for just over a quarter of ASEAN's trade, she said.

No further details were immediately available on how a bank in one country can qualify as an ASEAN bank. Currently, regional countries place stringent limits on foreign banks to protect their domestic industry, including limiting foreign equity participation and curbing their expansion and market access.


--  Dealing with the Disease of Addiction? Click here for help --

More from

NH1 News Debates
NH1 News Replay

NH1 on Twitter

NH1 SkyView Cameras

NH1 on Facebook

Check out NH1 News Rail Polls on LockerDome on LockerDome