13:00 | 21/04/2020 Vietnam - Asean
(VEN) - In its role as ASEAN Chair in 2020, Vietnam held two online summits - the ASEAN Special Summit and ASEAN+3 Special Summit - to discuss strengthened cooperation in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
As the first summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ever held in an online format with the full participation of leaders of 10 member states, the April 14 summits demonstrated the highest level of political commitment to solidarity and cooperation in the bloc, as well as with its partners, in repelling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the Covid-19 pandemic is a great challenge to mankind, a global crisis unprecedented since World War II, and the biggest challenge to ASEAN in over half a century of its existence.
However, PM Phuc noted that during this difficult time, the solidarity of the ASEAN Community has increased, with members shouldering difficulties together. Member countries have enhanced cooperation in health care, national defense, economy and tourism. ASEAN’s efforts have yielded encouraging results in controlling the pandemic, PM Phuc said. The number of reported Covid-19 cases among the 650 million residents of ASEAN has reached about 15,000, lower than the global rate.
ASEAN’s current top priority is to prevent and control the spread of the pandemic, especially cross-border transmission, the leaders said. They added that the organization should also focus on implementing measures to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on socioeconomic development. In order to protect citizens and support small- and medium-sized enterprises, countries need to coordinate closely in protecting their citizens, providing social security services and support packages, and maintaining supply chain linkages, they said.
The ASEAN leaders adopted a joint declaration of the ASEAN Special Summit on Covid-19 response, also praising Vietnam’s timely support in Covid-19 prevention and control.
Leaving no one behind
The ASEAN Community is also working closely with its partners and the international community to contain the pandemic. Efforts made by governments of the ASEAN countries and China, Japan and the Republic of Korea to prevent and control the spread of the pandemic have achieved encouraging results.
PM Phuc emphasized the ASEAN+3 countries enjoy a tradition of close cooperation and effective response to economic challenges, disasters and epidemics, including the SARS epidemic in 2003. In the face of the seriousness of Covid-19, PM Phuc highlighted the need to uphold this tradition and enhance solidarity to jointly overcome this difficult time.
The ASEAN+3 countries pledged themselves 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.
People’s interests should be given top priority, the leaders said, highlighting the need to ensure their health and livelihoods, and provide timely support and equal treatment for the ASEAN+3 citizens affected by the pandemic, including migrant workers, so that no one is left behind. In addition, they also pledged to maintain market opening, sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) soon, 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.
The leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to ease the socioeconomic impact caused by the pandemic, and put forward a post-pandemic recovery plan.
Member states will implement appropriate measures to enhance market confidence in order to improve the stability and resilience of the regional economy, including economic stimulus packages to support businesses and people affected by Covid-19, especially micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises and vulnerable groups.
|The theme chosen by Vietnam for ASEAN Year 2020, “Cohesive and Responsive”, was prophetic. Efforts made by Vietnam in its role as ASEAN Chair clearly reflect the spirit of the theme.|