Asia-Pacific finance ministers have pledged to keep the reform train moving at full speed, despite signs that most crisis-hit countries are on the mend. 'We will not become complacent in meeting the challenges ahead to sustain and deepen this progress,' ministers from 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum states said in a joint statement yesterday. 'We also urge member economies to keep markets open and to continue efforts towards free and open trade and investment.' Asia's rebound from severe economic crisis appears to have eased tensions between rich and developing nations, with ministers from both camps now seemingly able to reach a broader consensus on the way forward on most matters. Ministers, even from the Group of Seven leading industrialised nations, acknowledged the need to look at highly leveraged financial institutions and short-term capital flows, though without reaching any specific conclusions. There had been concern in Asia that the United States and some other developed countries might back-track on calls for greater transparency. The ministers also saw a need for emerging Asian economies to be more involved in talks on reforming the world's financial architecture. Hong Kong Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said: 'I think there has been a change of sentiment. 'There is a lot stronger, congenial spirit and much stronger consensus on the real problems of the Asian financial crisis and what we should do next.' Malaysian Second Finance Minister Mustapa Mohamed, who hosted the summit, went one further and declared the gathering 'a great consensus'. Making his first appearance on the world stage after being nominated to replace Robert Rubin, US Treasury Secretary-designate Lawrence Summers said: 'While there are nuances and differences of view, I do sense some increased convergence.' There was also broad agreement on the need to develop deeper bond markets in Asia, to provide a ready alternative means of raising capital to commercial bank debt. On Saturday, Japanese Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa unveiled a new Japanese initiative to provide up to two trillion yen (about HK$126.36 billion) worth of guarantees on sovereign bond issues by troubled Asian nations. Hong Kong, meanwhile, unveiled a plan to produce a compendium of sound bond market practices for Apec member economies to follow as well as a new Web site for them to share their debt-market experiences. 'We recognise the need for further work to develop deep and liquid domestic bond markets in the region, including developing reliable benchmark yield curves,' the final statement said. The ministers said they were encouraged by improvements in the economic and financial situation of Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, saying growth was expected to pick up this year in all of them. They also praised the mainland's economic growth, financial reforms and stimulative domestic policies. 'We welcome the commitment and effort China is making to reform the financial sector and state-owned enterprise for sustainable development,' the statement said. Chinese Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng said: 'We believe that China's best contribution to the resolution to the international financial crisis lies in the sound development of its domestic economy and stability of the renminbi [yuan] exchange rate. 'The government will stick to the course of reform and opening to the outside world.'