SE Asian central banks coordinating efforts to cushion virus impact

JAKARTA: Officials from leading Southeast Asian central banks have agreed to coordinate efforts to boost their economies, all struggling under the blow from the coronavirus pandemic.

Bank Indonesia Governor Perry Warjiyo told reporters in an online briefing Tuesday that he held talks a day earlier with officials from five central banks in the region.

He didn’t give details of what kind of coordination, if any, was decided.

The measures they’re planning are “still in discussion,” Warjiyo said. “But it shows that we move in a coordinated way in the region.”

Policymakers across Southeast Asia have been slashing interest rates, boosting market liquidity and injecting stimulus into their economies as the spread of the pandemic brings the world to a near-standstill.

In just the past week officials in Singapore and Thailand have said they expect their economies to shrink this year, and the World Bank warned Malaysia could be next.

The officials discussed pressure on International Monetary Fund resources, emerging-market financing needs and the unique challenges and responses to the crisis in each country, according to Benjamin Diokno, governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

“It was a very useful exchange of views,” Diokno said by text message. “We agreed to consult with each other regularly at this time, when actual face-to-face meeting among Asean-5 heads of central banks is not feasible give the coronavirus crisis.”

Central bank officials in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam did not immediately reply to requests for comment.