SEOUL (AFP) - East Asian nations Wednesday officially launched a 120-billion-dollar regional currency swap agreement, giving them a safety net against future liquidity shortages. The Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM) covers South Korea, China, Japan and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Its successful launch shows their commitment to further enhance regional capacity to safeguard against downside risks and challenges in the global economy, according to a joint statement issued by Seouls finance ministry. The agreement will allow each member to swap local currency for dollars for an amount in proportion to its contribution. East Asian finance ministers, meeting in the Thai city of Chiang Mai in 2000, endorsed a network of bilateral currency swap deals to avoid a recurrence of the 1997-98 regional financial crisis. The expanded CMIM pact was agreed in May 2009 at a meeting of the so-called ASEAN plus Three in the Indonesian resort of Bali. Japan and China will each provide 32 percent, 38.4 billion dollars, of the total. South Korea will contribute 19.2 billion or 16 percent, with the remaining 24b shared between the 10 ASEAN members. The decision on providing currency swaps will be made within one week of a request when two-thirds of members vote in favour. The money must be returned within 90 days but can be rolled over up to seven times, meaning that payback can be delayed for two years, Seouls finance ministry said. Ministers who met in Bali last year stressed the initiative is intended only to supplement and not to supplant the International Monetary Fund. They called it a natural step on the path to closer regional economic cooperation.