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By Christine Kim
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea and Japan said they will start talks on a new currency swap agreement after the countries’ finance ministers met in Seoul on Saturday to bolster defences against global financial uncertainties.
“South Korea offered to start talks on a currency swap agreement as part of boosting economic cooperation with Japan,” South Korea Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho said in a press conference after the meeting.
“Uncertainties can be minimised with the more swap agreements you have and our stance that we will push for as many as we can has not changed.”
Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso also said the two countries recognized the need for economic cooperation after Saturday’s talks.
The countries said in a joint statement that South Korea and Japan face threats from low potential growth rates and the risk of increasing global financial volatility.
South Korea’s last currency swap agreement with Japan was established in 2001 and the countries let it expire in February last year at $10 billion. The swap line had once expanded to $70 billion in 2011 but was sized down later on political conflict between the two countries.
Details on the timing of the talks and what currencies the new swap line, if agreed upon, will be established with will be settled in the near future, according to the South Korean finance minister.
Yoo added South Korea and Japan would jointly act “firmly” against trade protectionism and cooperate closely on sanctions against North Korea. Both countries expressed “strong concern” over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme and missile development.
South Korean finance ministry officials had initially said a swap agreement was not on the official agenda for Saturday’s talks.
(Reporting by Christine Kim; Additional reporting by Nataly Pak; Editing by Stephen Coates)