ASEAN+3 Countries Cooperate In Battle Vs. COVID-19

ASEAN+3 Countries Cooperate In Battle Vs. COVID-19

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Leaders attending the online Special Asean+3 Summit on coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response, chaired by Vietnam, on Tuesday, shared experience and discussed concrete measures to stamp out the pandemic.

The leaders also discussed ways to protect people’s interests and ease the socioeconomic impacts caused by the epidemic and put forward a post-pandemic recovery plan.

The Asean+3 countries, including the 10 member states of Asean and partner countries China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK), committed to standing ready to exchange experience, policies and epidemiological and clinical research, support each other with medical supplies, and step up cooperation in Covid-19 vaccine and drug development.

The leaders shared a view that lessons drawn from China, Japan, and the RoK in containing and preventing the pandemic were useful for Asean in tackling the disease.

People’s interests should be given the top priority, they said, stressing the need to ensure their health and livelihoods, and provide timely support and equal treatment for Asean+3 citizens affected by the epidemic, including migrant workers, so that no one would be left behind.

They also pledged to maintain open markets, soon sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), diversify the connectivity of supply sources in and outside the region, and ensure the flow of goods and services, especially essential medical materials and products.

They agreed to assign the Asean+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) to study and propose policy recommendations to promptly respond to recession risks and optimize prevention mechanisms to keep the economic-financial situation and food security in Asean+3 stable in accordance with the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization agreement and the Asean+3 Emergency Rice Reserve.

In his remarks, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc described solidarity and support among the countries as the key to overcoming this difficult time.

He also introduced Vietnam’s experience and initial results in containing the pandemic and protecting people’s lives and thanked other countries for their coordination as well as technical and financial assistance to Vietnam.

The Vietnamese PM raised proposals to enhance Asean+3 cooperation in fighting Covid-19, while maintaining economic stability and development.

At the summit, participating leaders heard a report from the Asean Secretary General on the bloc’s efforts in preventing and containing the pandemic, and the WHO Director General’s speech on the global pandemic situation and response of all countries.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang emphasized the need to strengthen awareness within communities with a shared future for humanity to clinch an early victory against Covid-19 in East Asia, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.

As Covid-19 spread globally, the Asean+3 countries were also affected, Li said, noting the virus was gravely threatening the health, safety, and lives of people around the world.

He called on the Asean+3 countries to demonstrate their positive and special role in fighting the epidemic and revitalizing the economy and to send a message of partnership, solidarity, and mutual assistance among East Asian countries to boost confidence in the region and beyond.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong suggested that countries should work together by sharing information, collaborating to keep trade routes and supply lines open, and building resilience to deal with future economic shocks, according to the Strait Times.

At the same time, Asean should not lose sight of longer-term objectives, which were key to enabling economies to survive and recover once the storm was past, he said.

RoK President Moon Jae-in called for strengthened cooperation, saying the current situation required “extraordinary cooperation”, according to the Korea Herald.

He put forward three proposals for strengthening multilateral cooperation. The proposals were cooperating in securing quarantine and medical supplies, establishing an “Asean-RoK Health Ministers’ Dialogue Channel” and taking steps to maintain the flow of economic and people-to-people exchanges, trade, investment, and food.

“Furthermore, given that we do not want to undermine each country’s quarantine efforts, I propose that we seek ways to facilitate the travel of essential persons such as business leaders, medical professionals, and humanitarian workers,” Moon was quoted by the Korea Herald as saying.

At the end of the meeting, the leaders issued a joint statement of the Special Asean+3 Summit on Covid-19. (VNS)

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