Transcript of a Press Briefing by the IMF Asia Pacific Department

Washington, D.C.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Webcast of the press briefing Webcast

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Good morning.

Thank you for coming to the press briefing by the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department.

I am Keiko Utsunomiya, Press Officer for the External Relations Department.

Director of the Asia and Pacific Department, Mr. Anoop Singh will be making an opening remark, and then we will take questions from the floor.

At the table in front of you are Mr. Anoop Singh, Director of the Asia and Pacific Department; Deputy Director Mr. Masahiko Takeda; Senior Advisor Mr. Mahmood Pradhan, who is also the Mission Chief for Japan; and Mr. Nigel Chalk, who is also Mission Chief for China.

With that, I will turn the floor to Anoop.

MR. SINGH: Thank you very much. It is good to see you all.

It is a pleasure for me to update you on the events and the outlook for Asia. As you probably know, we will be releasing our comprehensive Economic Outlook for Asia soon, in Asia.

Let me start, however, by expressing my condolences to the authorities and people of Japan for the terrible losses suffered from the earthquake and the tsunami last month. Thankfully, the early and decisive actions by Japan’s Government and the Bank of Japan have helped contain the initial economic and financial damage.

We foresee an initial sharp slowdown in growth but followed by a rebound driven by sizeable reconstruction spending.

Having said that, there is no doubt the risks are clearly on the downside. There are uncertainties about power outages that could disrupt production across the supply chain somewhat longer than might be expected now.

Meanwhile, coming back to Asia as a whole, we see that the recovery in Asia has certainly matured at a healthy rate. Both exports and domestic demand, which is important, have fueled rapid economic growth, reached 8.5 percent in 2010. It should remain robust in 2011-2012, close to 7 percent.

If you look just at emerging Asia, we are looking at growth rates close to 8 percent. It is also the case that China and India will continue to lead the Region. You know that China we expect to grow by 9.5 percent this year and next, and India to be growing around 8 percent.

Having said that, I want to note that growth has also remained robust in low-income countries in Asia and in the Pacific Islands, and we expect it will remain so thanks to strong commodity and textile exports; a healthy outlook we see now for tourism.

But having said all that, let me say that we do see output gaps closing everywhere in Asia, and therefore, it is not surprising that we are seeing overheating pressures building both in goods and asset markets. In fact, headline CPI inflation has accelerated in the last six months, and initially, this reflected commodity prices, but we do see these pressures now spilling over into core inflation and in inflation expectations.

At the same time, it is the case that credit dynamics remain strong in many emerging Asian countries, for example, in China, in Singapore, and Hong Kong. We do see asset market pressures in some countries; especially in segments of the property markets, this is the case.

If you look now at the overall risks to the outlook—and you have heard this from Olivier Blanchard in recent days—our sense is that these risks are probably more balanced than they were six months ago. But having said that, it is important to recognize that new downside risks have emerged. As I mentioned, if there were to be, in the event of a prolonged disruption of industrial production in Japan, there would be effects on other economies in Asia and elsewhere which are linked through the global supply chain.

Number two, as I have also just mentioned, spikes in energy and food prices could affect Asia’s growth and inflation outlook, and these do affect the condition of low-income households and the poor.

But from a macro point of view, our sense is that higher energy prices would have a relatively limited direct impact on growth for most countries, but clearly, commodity prices in particular, if they were higher, this would exacerbate inflationary pressures.

Having said all that, we do expect inflation in many Asian economies to increase a bit further this year before they then decelerate. But the risks are clearly for Asia on the upside.

So, having said that, we have a background of strong growth, signs of overheating, closing up of gaps, and therefore, the need to tighten macroeconomic policy stances in Asia is probably more pressing than I mentioned to you six months ago. Certainly, further monetary tightening which has begun in Asia, but further tightening is necessary in economies that are facing these generalized inflation pressures, and still, interest rates remain generally below the levels consistent with stable growth. In many cases, interest rates are negative in real terms in many countries.

Certainly, as I have mentioned before to you, exchange rate appreciation would help tighten monetary conditions and reduce the burden to be borne by higher policy rates, and certainly, in Asia, several economies also have scope for more fiscal consolidation. But having said that, I want to emphasize the importance that we do attach to ensuring that low-income households are targeted for protection against these higher food prices that are affecting inequalities, the poor.

We expect foreign capital to continue flowing into Asia in the next two years, but we do believe this will be at a more moderate pace than the surge we saw late last year. But certainly, renewed tensions in mature markets as well as the withdrawal of monetary accommodation which is beginning in the advanced economies could cause more volatility in capital flows. Countries in Asia are taking macro-prudential measures which will help protect them from the risks from volatility in capital flows. These macro-prudential measures are certainly helpful. They are complements to macroeconomic policy adjustments—of course, they are not substitutes.

Let me talk to you finally, briefly, about the medium term. We have quite often discussed with you the important priority to strengthen the platform in Asia for sustained medium-term growth. The persistence of global imbalances suggests that the need to address distortions that we saw in the pre-crisis period remain--for example, undervalued exchange rates in key emerging surplus economies and insufficient domestic savings in advance deficit countries. Unless these distortions are corrected over the medium term, they could put the global growth prospects at some risk.

Finally, let me say a few words about the importance of looking at policies that ensure inclusive growth in Asia as well, because in Asia, too, a large share of workers are employed in vulnerable segments of labor markets, and income inequalities remain high and a matter of concern, as we have heard from the leaders in China, in India, in Singapore, and others.

Therefore, narrowing income inequalities through inclusive labor markets and stronger social protection, would not only facilitate social stability, which is important, ensure that inequalities don’t go up; they would also facilitate the rebalancing of Asia’s needs toward domestic demand.

These are my early remarks on where things are, and we of course look forward to your questions; and I also look forward, if any of you are going to be coming to Asia when we launch our Economic Outlook for Asia.

Thanks very much.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Thank you, Anoop.

Let me remind you to identify yourself before asking questions, please. Also, please press the button so that people logged onto the Online Media Briefing Center can hear your questions.

With that, if you have any questions—please.

QUESTIONER: I have two questions. First, do you think China can really manage the inflation rate? Second, if China’s economy falls into trouble, what will be its spillover effects on the regional economy?

MR. SINGH: Well, that’s a very important issue.

You know that just a couple of days ago, the Chinese Premier mentioned that the top priority for China is bringing inflation under control, and this was a reiteration of what Chinese leaders have said in recent months, that bringing inflation under control is their top priority. This is true, of course.

My own sense is that China has taken key successive measures. Their main target is to bring down the growth of credit from where it was last year. There have been successive increases in interest rates, prudential measures, and they have taken a number of measures targeted at the property market.

Our own sense is that in China, the rise in inflation going to 5-something percent was expected by us. The supply conditions, supply shortages of food have been very important factors for China and, for that reasons, our current prediction is that inflation in China should peak shortly and will come down later in this year. We do feel that policies are targeting this, but what is most important to my mind is that this is clearly recognized by state leaders, and we can be sure that the measures that they have taken so far will be increased until they are certain that inflation is coming down.

Let me turn to Mr. Chalk and ask him if he has any further comments to make.

MR. CHALK: Yes. I think we for quite some time have advocated greater efforts at slowing credit growth in the last year-and-a-half or so, and I think the central bank certainly has that in their targets for this year. You are seeing progressive steps to raise reserve requirements, to increase interest rates, and we are seeing credit growth in the first quarter coming down. So I think that trajectory that they are on, should they continue with that trajectory, inflation will come down, and we have it forecast at a little bit over 4 by the end of the year.

MR. SINGH: And just on your point about the Region, as we know, China has played a very important role in Asia, helping with the recovery. As we look at countries that trade with China, we see the evidence that those countries that trade more with China have actually recovered faster, and therefore, there is great regional interest in ensuring that China retains its growth momentum with price stability, and price stability is a key target of the authorities, which is very important for the Region as a whole.

QUESTIONER: What is the largest uncertainty of the Japanese economy—for example, the nuclear power issue, power shortages, supply chain issues, fiscal situation.

Secondly, please break down your growth prediction. What are the numbers for consumer spending and government spending?

MR. SINGH: Thanks very much. Well, there are many uncertainties, and if we look back at the reaction after the Kobe earthquake, we saw that there was a quick bounce-back, and our current projection, the baseline scenario, is based on a bounce-back later in this year. We are re-looking at the forecast for the reasons you mentioned. There are a number of uncertainties. I’m not sure we are the best-placed to rank which are the most serious. You have named them all. The two certainly are very important. One is the supply chain. The other is linked to the power outages. We are very impressed that the Government is planning a supplementary budget; they are planning reconstruction spending, and the timing of all this is going to be very important to determine when the bounce-back takes place. We can’t be sure yet about the timing of the bounce-back the uncertainties are so great at this moment—and this means that we cannot be sure when this will happen.

We do see a number of companies have restarted production—Toyota, for example—and I think the next focus is to wait for the Government very soon to come up with its reconstruction package.

But let me turn to Mr. Pradhan and ask him if he wants to add to this.

MR. PRADHAN: Thank you.

On your two questions, let me start with the uncertainties. They are both related. The larger one is the power disruptions. If you think about it the other way—if power disruptions were addressed, that would also help the supply chain issue. So I think the power disruptions—and that uncertainty is also underlying the issue about how we put together a forecast. This forecast is subject to significantly more uncertainty than normal, and that’s because of the power disruption situation.

On your second question—how do we break it down—in the aggregate numbers, we have a very large negative impact in this quarter and the second quarter. We are assuming in this forecast that you mentioned, 1.4 percent, that we will have some normalization of power toward the end of the summer. If that turns out to be incorrect or a little optimistic, then we will have to re-look at the forecast. We have a very large hit on private sector spending in this quarter, and then, in the remaining two quarters, the second half of the year, that is largely offset by reconstruction spending.

So, all of those things will impact how we look at the forecast as we move along, how much reconstruction spending we see, not just the amount, but it is also the execution and the implementation, how long it takes to actually put that spending on the ground.

QUESTIONER: Chinese Government has downsized its expectation toward its GDP growth this year which has triggered some concerns from the neighboring countries. What is your expectation toward the influences in the Region?

Secondly, would you please inform us more about regional coordination in the financial supervision, especially in terms of capital control?

MR. SINGH: All right. Well, on the first issue, our projection remains that China’s growth will be over 9 percent in the coming two years, this year and next year. China has for some time had the sense that growth over the medium term will moderate and come down from this level, and I think this is the outlook that they are now coming up with now.

In terms of interest rate, you asked—right—the main focus in China is to bring down the rate of growth of credit, and the measures that they are taking are all aimed at that. I should mention that we are also concluding our Financial Sector Assessment Program for China, which is also linked to looking at how the financial sector is responding, but it is a very important focus as you build up the robustness of medium-term growth. It comes back in the end also to make sure that policies are inclusive, and the kind of financial development that China has in mind is also aimed at ensuring that medium-term growth, is as inclusive as it can be.

QUESTIONER: Does your report in any way take into consideration the possibility of China floating its currency or make a recommendation regarding the currency as far as bringing down the inflation rate?

MR. SINGH: Well, I think it has been recognized for some time on both sides that if you look at the medium term, the key target for China is to rebalance its economy and boost domestic demand. This needs a package of measures, and that package of measures includes flexibility and strengthening of the exchange rate along with other measures. There is recognition that the currency is undervalued from that medium-term perspective, and therefore, for a medium-term package, it is among the measures that should and will be taken, as has also been reiterated frequently by the Chinese authorities.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Okay. I would like to take some questions online. The huge foreign reserves that the East Asia and Southeast Asian countries are piling up. Are these a significant imbalance danger of another kind, and why? If so, what can be done?

MR. SINGH: Well, I think that question is another way of looking at global imbalances and looking at keeping medium-term growth globally high over the medium term. It is another way of expressing that. And we have made this point several times, that global rebalancing requires actions both on advanced economies that are in deficit and emerging markets that are in surplus, and these are the distortions I referred to earlier in my statement. These needs to be addressed in order to ensure that global growth remains high, and this is fundamental also to the pattern we see in reserves in different Regions.

So I think this is a fair point. It is part of the reason why we focus so much on addressing the global imbalances and ensuring that growth remains robust over the medium term.

Do you want to add to that, Masahiko?

MR. TAKEDA: I think that’s fine.

MR. SINGH: Okay.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Another question online: “Why is the IMF focusing on a slower, 5 percent growth for the Philippines? Why can’t the Philippines and other countries in Asia and the Pacific achieve higher than forecast growth?”

MR. SINGH: Well, I think this again goes back to the medium-term objectives of ensuring that Asia’s growth remains high, and in most parts of Asia, it involves some degree of rebalancing.

Certainly our sense is that the recovery is well-established in the Philippines. In fact, we are projecting higher potential growth for the Philippines, higher than we expected last time, closer to 5 percent, and measures are being taken by the Government both from the fiscal side as well as productivity on ensuring that potential growth does rise above 5 percent. So I think we can be quite confident that as you look ahead, we can look to the Philippines to raise its growth rate to levels that we are now seeing for emerging Asia as a whole.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Another one from OMBC, “Sri Lanka’s March inflation was 8.6 percent. Unlike in the past, it comes in a background of improving budget. Last week, reserve ratios were raised, but excess liquidity is still about a quarter of the reserve money, and credit growth is high. What more action can the central bank take to tame inflation?”

MR. SINGH: Well, I think, looking at Sri Lanka and their inflation, I think they have been particularly affected by commodity prices, food prices, energy prices, and our own sense is that the entrenchment of this into underlying core inflation as yet is quite low. So our own sense is that core inflation remains under control in Sri Lanka, within the target of the authorities, and we have just completed another review of the program.

Having said that, it is true that credit growth in Sri Lanka has been high, and therefore, the central bank does face an important balance in how it achieves the growth targets it has in mind but ensures that the food and energy and other commodity prices do not feed into core inflation. So far, our sense is that core inflation is under control and that the authorities in Sri Lanka are acting to ensure that credit growth remains at levels consistent with their core inflation objectives.

QUESTIONER: If you have a downside scenario about Japan, could you elaborate on that? Is there any possibility of a minus growth rate in Japan?

MR. SINGH: Well, I think on that issue, what we both just said is that our projection at the moment is based on the assumption that the main uncertainties, supply chain and power outages, are resolved in the next few months. That is the fundamental assumption.

Having said that, we also did emphasize that there are clear downside risks, and these risks are related to both factors—how long these uncertainties continue, number one, and number two, the size and timing of the Government’s reconstruction spending.

We are having a team that will go to Japan for the Art IV quite soon, next month—I think in the next few weeks—and while we are there, we will have more evidence of how this process is going to revise our projection. I do believe that much before that, in the coming week, the Bank of Japan is coming out with its mid-term outlook.

But that’s where we are, and as I said, our assumption is based on these principal uncertainties being resolved in the coming months.

Do you want to add to that?

MR. PRADHAN: Yes. I think I will just add a general point about downside scenarios and about the risks. They are related to the uncertainty, and the uncertainty is very unusual; that’s the difficulty about power disruptions, how long it takes for the nuclear situation to stabilize. The impact of all that uncertainty on consumer and business sentiment is the bit that is quite difficult to gauge at present.

So, if you see a lot of other forecasts—and many private sector forecasts are expecting lower growth than we are at the moment—they are making assumptions about consumer sentiment and business sentiment which are difficult to be very sure about at this point. So I would just make that general point, that that is where the downside scenarios come from, and it really does depend--as Mr. Singh said, if the power supply situation is stabilized in the next three or four months, then we can see the recovery beginning quite rapidly, as reconstruction sets in.

Thank you.

QUESTIONER: The Fund mentions in the report that the capital inflow is the major challenge for Asian countries. The dilemma is that if the countries tighten their monetary policies, like increased interest rates, may attract more capital inflow to the Region. What is your advice for policymakers how to address that challenge?

MR. SINGH: Well, you raise a very fundamental question which we have tried to address in recent months. We have had many meetings and seminars on how to deal with capital flows. There was an important conference held in Indonesia just a few weeks ago, and our Executive Board has been discussing the measures that can be taken, so I will not try to summarize all of this, but let me just make a couple of points.

We are seeing a shift in capital inflows more into portfolio compared to what we had seen earlier, and in terms of responses, macro-prudential measures are being taken. We have over time emphasized that the toolkit that countries have for dealing with these capital flows is large, perhaps more than it was some time ago.

Having said that, for Asia, it is very interesting because if you look at macroeconomic policies, as I said earlier, there is room to act in a number of fronts—monetary policy, exchange rate policy, and fiscal policy. These measures are needed in any case because of overheating. They will also help to address the problem from the surge in capital flows. But a lot of our discussions have been on the immediate effect of capital inflows into overheating and short run targets. What I want to emphasize is that we are also doing a lot of work in Asia on how to ensure that these capital flows over the medium term help with rebalancing that is needed for medium-term growth. So I would say that an equally important objective for Asia which many leaders have already expressed—and this was done a lot in Indonesia including by their leaders—that the challenge for Indonesia and the Region is to build up the absorptive capacity so they can absorb, to have an economic framework that directs the capital flows into areas that are crucial for building up the growth momentum, which means based on domestic demand, services, infrastructure.

Therefore, while there are very important short-term challenges, I think the focus in Asia from my perspective is moving to how to have that kind of financial development and economic framework that will raise the absorptive capacity of Asia to absorb these capital inflows and ensure that this goes in tandem with their objectives to rebalance over the medium term.

Do you want to add to that?

MR. PRADHAN: Yes, just a very small addition on the issue of whether tighter monetary policy or higher interest rates attracts more capital flows. There are just two things I would say on that.

One is that the recent World Economic Outlook has quite a lot of detailed analysis on this, the evidence from past episodes that you might want to look at. That evidence says it is not very clear-cut, meaning that it is not always the case that higher interest rates attract more capital flows, partly because certain markets, equity markets, would not attract more flows at higher interest rates.

The second is that countries may be running more risks by delaying tightening for fear of capital flows, because you are then running policy that may not be appropriate given domestic conditions, and that is related to what Mr. Singh was saying about overheating and output gaps closing.

So there are risks involved in sort of unnecessary increases in asset prices, credit growth, if you delay tightening, and that can also lead to future volatility of capital flows which, as you know, is equally a concern for many policymakers. It is not just the level, it is also the volatility.

MR. SINGH: And also, while we look at the overall levels of capital flows, it is very high for certain countries; but if you look at Asia as a whole, it is still less than it was during previous surges. So it is at a peak pace for some countries, but overall, it is not above where we have seen the surge in previous episodes.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Okay, there is a related question: “Some economists expect that the U.S. Federal Reserve may increase interest rates not too far after the QE2 completion. What do you see its impact on Asian emerging economies in the second half of this year and next year?”

MR. SINGH: Well, I am not going to comment on what we can expect from the U.S., but we have seen this already in the ECB. So I think that as the concerns of inflation rise, we will see changes in monetary policy in both advanced economies as well as in emerging markets.

QUESTIONER: Can you say whether there are the kinds of risks that surfaced in 1996-1997 in Asia don’t exist today? Are the same things happening, the same kinds of surges into countries, raising their interest rates and their inability to absorb all of that flow, that could kick off another regional meltdown?

Another question which is completely different; can you comment on the kinds of challenges facing the Indian economy?

MR. SINGH: Well, on the first issue, I think it is very important to distinguish where Asia is today and where Asia was in 1997. It is completely different. In terms of the fundamentals, we saw how Asia was able to deal with the recent global crisis by active stimulus in both monetary and fiscal policy. Their financial systems have been strong, and they have been able to resist exposure to the kinds of instruments that caused the problem in the advanced economies.

So I think it is very different where we are today and where we were in 1997-1998. You have the point that there are the surges, and I think there has been a lot of shift in the surges between then and now and over the years. We saw that property, real estate, in certain countries was very important at the time of the Asian crisis. When we look at the property effect now, it is in a few countries. It is not nationwide. It is in certain property markets, cities. I think we are in a very different stage. Countries are now developing instruments and structures to raise their absorptive capacity.

There has been a shift over the last 10 years from FDI in some cases to portfolios, which has also raised the concerns of volatility.

So I think you need to look at this in a broader perspective, but having said that, I think Asia is well-prepared for this. There is a lot of room to act on macroeconomic policy, which they will, so I think they are in quite a much better protected stage today compared to where they were.

Looking to India, I think we are quite optimistic on India’s growth rate. As I mentioned earlier, it is going to remain at around 8.5 percent. And I think if you look at India, just to put this back to the question you asked about capital flows, among India’s many challenges, as the Prime Minister has said in the last six months, the main one is infrastructure. I think this is a main focus of Indian economic policy, and they are trying to build different structures to ensure that infrastructure goes up while maintaining macroeconomic stability.

Capital flows has not been a problem for India as it may have been for certain other countries. There is certainly much more room for capital flows in India to be supportive of greater infrastructure spending.

There is a lot that countries can learn within Asia, too. If we look at what China has done over the last 10 years, you see how China has raised its infrastructure. What India needs to do—you then look at what India has done. India has developed its service technology, information technology, in a substantial way. Developing a service economy is a very important objective of China’s next plan.

So, as you look at these two lead economies, India and China, I think we are at a stage where both can learn from each other as they address the target of keeping their growth rates robustly high.

QUESTIONER: How much of the surge in inflation you would attribute to capital flows and how much to domestic policy rigidities. I’m thinking particular of China and India, which have disclosed large increases in their inflation rates.

MR. SINGH: Well, I think I tried to address that important question in the opening remarks.

There are two ways to address that. In many countries in Asia, certainly including India, the output gaps have closed, and that itself is a reason to accelerate going back to neutral macroeconomic policies. But it has happened at a time when we have had these shocks from commodity prices, energy prices, and therefore, the challenge is to ensure that this does not enter into core inflation.

Having said that, a concern is that it is happening. It is in some countries getting into core inflation. And therefore, the need to tackle the issue has become even more important now than it was six months ago. But it is important to note that for these two countries, China and India, the contribution from food has been very important, and their target now is to ensure that this does not feed into core inflation.

Masahiko, do you want to add on this, as India?

MR. TAKEDA: Okay.

Earlier, there was an India question, and I happen to be India Mission Chief, so briefly on that, and then a bit of a comment on the question after that.

I think there are two types of challenges—short-term challenges and medium-term challenges. The short-term challenge, the biggest one, is the inflation which has been rising. At one point, it was thought to be a temporary factor, but apparently, that is not the case, and the initial food price-driven inflation is now somewhat generalizing. So the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is now very concerned about it, and we expect the RBI to stay vigilant and take necessary action.

The medium-term challenge was touched upon by Anoop, but it is basically how to maintain high growth. Right now, India is enjoying high growth, and there must be some appropriate environment for high growth to continue—one is the point mentioned by Anoop, infrastructure. But there are other things, like how to increase agricultural productivity, how to increase the level of human capital, how to enhance FDI. So there are a large number of other issues that India needs to—sort of structural reform issues—that India needs to address to maintain continued reform.

One thing I wanted to comment on your question. You seem to think that capital inflows are inflationary. They can be, but they are not directly inflationary, because if anything, that can increase the exchange rate. The usual mechanism is when capital flows in, basically, the central banks tries to offset that, and that can lead to excess liquidity. But then, at that point, it is already party of the policy reaction.

So again, it is not the domestic rigidity thing, but it is perhaps domestic policymaking, what are the right policy priorities that the individual country, especially monetary authorities, should assign to exchange rate management, inflation control, demand management, etc.

Thank you.

QUESTIONER: In dealing with commodity and food inflation, we see some apparent moves to put caps on food prices and basic materials prices in China. Is that the right approach?

MR. SINGH: Well, you have been seeing countries taking certain administrative measures in different countries; there are quite a few that are being taken. I think the most important point is, as Masahiko just said, to ensure that it doesn’t get into core inflation. That is the most important. I would make that the focus and not the few administrative measures that countries may be forced to take, but the importance of macro policies ensuring it doesn’t get into core inflation.

QUESTIONER: If countries like China and India can’t get their inflation under control, and it does become entrenched in core inflation, is that a threat to the recovery in the region and in the rest of the world given that so much of the world now relies on Chinese and other large emerging economies for growth impetus?

MR. SINGH: Well, the very easy way to answer that question is we have been meeting the authorities, as we continue to do, very frequently, and I can tell you that making sure it doesn’t get into core inflation is on the top of the policy agenda in China and India and other countries. I think we can be sure that this will be done. This is clearly their top policy. As I said, the Chinese Premier just announced two days ago.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: With that, I would like to conclude this press briefing.

Please note that the Asia and Pacific Department Regional Outlook will be released later this month.

Thank you very much to all of you for coming to this briefing, and thank you to all who logged onto our Media Online Briefing Center.

Opening remarks, hard copy, will be available right here in English, Chinese, and Japanese.

Thanks.



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