FINANCE ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialised nations yesterday agreed to recommend three ambitious codes of conduct, designed to strengthen the global financial architecture and prevent any further outbreak of financial crises. In what was the first glimmer of support for Japan, ministers also gave a cautious welcome to Tokyo's mammoth 16 trillion yen (about HK$932.95 billion) economic package, unveiled last month, but stressed the need for much greater strengthening of the financial system. Wrapping up half a day of talks which were aimed at preparing the ground for the annual Group of Eight (G8) leaders' summit in Birmingham this weekend, British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said the new codes were aimed at learning from the crises that had engulfed Asia. The Asian crises highlighted the underlying, interdependence of the global financial system and the need for the G7 and other countries to work together, he said. The new codes encapsulate guidelines for monetary and financial policy, aimed at boosting transparency in issues such as government and private debt, the level of official reserves and the extent to which the reserves have been subject to forward transactions. A third code also proposes rules on corporate behaviour, to set standards for auditing, disclosure and corporate governance. The codes will be presented to the G8 this weekend. Japan also received a much-needed boost from the G7, after the scepticism which greeted its latest economic package. Ministers said they intended to carefully observe how Japan would implement the proposals and stressed that it had to be accompanied by financial-sector reform. In an unusual aside, the G7 said the US economy also required vigilance to remain on a sustainable path. The latest job figures, released on Friday, showed that US unemployment had fallen to a 28-year low. Mr Brown said that following huge private-sector financial collapses, such as the merchant bank Barings and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, ministers had agreed to 10 key principles for international financial information exchange. This marked a significant step towards improving financial stability. It said the G7 would adopt the principles, but ministers believed countries all over the world should observe them. Broadly, they cover much greater sharing of information between financial regulators across different sectors and information sharing between exchanges. They also allow such information to be used for law enforcement and commit to a removal of any laws that prevent supervisory information exchange. The G7 said that while globalisation had brought benefits to people worldwide, the continuing process of globalisation and recent events in Asia had revealed a number of weaknesses in national and international financial systems, as well as in the lending practices of private-sector investors. The G7 also committed itself to tackling global financial crime and said it would seek ways to improve co-operation between regulators and law enforcers.