Bali awaits fi­nan­cial elite

Asia visit will test US Fed chief’s ap­petite for risk

The Star Malaysia - StarBiz - - Foreign News -

JAKARTA: Jerome Pow­ell’s up­com­ing Asia visit will test the Fed­eral Re­serve chief’s ap­petite for risk on a far dif­fer­ent scale to the US econ­omy.

As In­done­sia pre­pares to host the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund and World Bank Group an­nual meet­ing on the is­land of Bali in Oc­to­ber, au­thor­i­ties are plan­ning for all sorts of po­ten­tial nat­u­ral dis­as­ters from earth­quakes to tsunamis, af­ter a tremor killed 500 peo­ple in a nearby is­land this month.

Of­fi­cials also have a con­tin­gency plan in the event that a rum­bling vol­cano erupts again.

“We as the com­mit­tee and the govern­ment are ready with an evac­u­a­tion plan,” In­done­sia’s IMF-World Bank An­nual Meet­ing task-force chief Peter Ja­cobs said in an in­ter­view in Jakarta. “We even have the ships, the navy ships around Bali ready.”

Safety con­cerns are prov­ing para­mount as Pow­ell and fi­nan­cial world lead­ers pre­pare to gather with more than 15,000 peo­ple on the re­sort is­land of Bali.

As far as the meet­ing’s agenda goes, the on­go­ing trade war be­tween the US and China is loom­ing as the key is­sue.

How­ever, Ja­cobs said that In­done­sia plans to also use the meet­ings to high­light in­fra­struc­ture fi­nanc­ing and show­case Bali’s po­ten­tial as an in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion. The is­land cur­rently has its chal­lenges. The Mount Agung vol­cano be­gan rum­bling about a year ago, with the erup­tions that fol­lowed prompt­ing mass evac­u­a­tions. It forced Bali’s in­ter­na­tional air­port to close for sev­eral days in Novem­ber, and an erup­tion in June also caused hun­dreds of flights to be can­celed.

In­done­sia, an ar­chi­pel­ago of more than 17,000 is­lands, has the world’s largest num­ber of his­tor­i­cally ac­tive vol­ca­noes. The country is lo­cated on the so-called Pa­cific Ring of Fire, an arc of vol­ca­noes and ge­o­log­i­cal fault lines sur­round­ing the Pa­cific Basin.

Bali’s neigh­bor­ing is­land of Lom­bok was hit by a se­ries of earth­quakes this month, dis­plac­ing hun­dreds of thou­sand of peo­ple and leav­ing more than 500 dead.

The tourist haven re­mains a scene of de­struc­tion and af­ter­shocks have been oc­cur­ring since.

The au­thor­i­ties are pre­pared “in case any­thing hap­pens,” Ja­cobs said. “We have the con­tin­gency plans in place.”

In­done­sia, as host na­tion of the IMF-World Bank meet­ing, wants fi­nan­cial tech­nol­ogy and the dig­i­tal econ­omy in­cluded on the agenda, as part of a frame­work to be known as the Bali Ini­tia­tive. Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo will de­liver a speech on the dig­i­tal econ­omy.

“We are also push­ing or sup­port­ing the is­sue of the in­ter­na­tional mone­tary sys­tem as we are see­ing the trade war and there will be mone­tary pol­icy co-or­di­na­tions that will need to be strength­ened,” Ja­cobs said.

“These will be also the cen­tral is­sues dis­cussed in the IMFC,” he said, re­fer­ring to the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary and Fi­nan­cial Com­mit­tee. — Bloomberg

Bali con­fer­ence: Safety con­cerns are prov­ing para­mount as Pow­ell and fi­nan­cial world lead­ers pre­pare to gather with more than 15,000 peo­ple on the re­sort is­land of Bali. — AP

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