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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hong Kong Forum Closes Peacefully

HONG KONG -- After grappling with the twin challenges of terrorism and the world economic slowdown, business leaders were closing a summit Wednesday with one bit of contentment: Their latest push for globalization wasn't drowned out by protests.

Kenneth Courtis, vice chairman of investment bank Goldman Sachs Asia, said companies must "see where we stand in this complex, complicated context of a global slowdown and the drama which has been unfolding since Sept. 11."

Central bankers from five Asian economies agreed Wednesday that Asia should develop closer monetary cooperation and eventually adopt a single currency, like 12 nations in Europe have.

But they admitted it will be hard due to the differences in incomes and economies as well as the geographical distance between the countries.

"It is possible, but only in the long term, given the diversity among the countries," said Masayuki Matsushima, executive director of the Bank of Japan. "Hasty, ill-prepared actions are to be avoided."

"We're vulnerable to globalization, that's why we need to cooperate in order to maintain stability and increase efficiency," said Joseph Yam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

Delegates at the three-day conference said they were pleasantly surprised to see no repeats of the massive anti-globalization protests that have marred other big financial meetings.

"It's the major element of satisfaction, of course," said Claude Smadja, principal adviser of the World Economic Forum, which attracted only minor demonstrations outside. Activists claim authorities hindered them by keeping them far away and allegedly barring five Taiwanese demonstrators from Hong Kong. Hong Kong authorities say they do not stifle anybody's message but take only necessary security measures.

"Lots of people staying in the neighboring hotels didn't even realize there were protests, until they saw the newspapers," said one of the conference delegates, PV Ramachandra Raju, director of the finance company DCL Group from Hyderabad, India.