ASEAN leaders foresee slower growth but steady and stable recovery

16:28 | 08/07/2020 Vietnam - Asean

(VEN) - Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chaired the 36th ASEAN Summit on June 26 held online, with regional leaders reaffirming the bloc’s cohesion and responsiveness for the sake of common peace, stability and prosperity.

asean leaders foresee slower growth but steady and stable recovery
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addresses the opening ceremony of the 36th ASEAN Summit

Greater unity to confront pandemic

PM Phuc chaired an international press conference held in Hanoi after the 36th ASEAN Summit. He said the Covid-19 pandemic has spread widely, with over 130,000 infections and nearly 4,000 deaths in ASEAN member states, requiring drastic and rapid response. This included the ASEAN Special Summit and ASEAN+3 Special Summit, an initiative on the establishment of the Covid-19 ASEAN Response Fund, establishment of a regional reserve of medical supplies, and ASEAN Standard Operating Procedure for Public Health Emergencies.

PM Phuc said ASEAN leaders discussed controlling the Covid-19 pandemic and promoting socioeconomic recovery and intra-regional cooperation and pledged to continue to build a strong community according to the goals set for 2020; expand and deepen the ASEAN’s external relations on the basis of mutual respect and benefit and emphasize the central role of ASEAN; maintain a peaceful and stable environment for cooperation, sustainable development and prosperity; and uphold the spirit of goodwill and compliance with laws, especially international law in addressing regional differences.

ASEAN leaders further reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and over-flight above the East Sea. They emphasized the need to use peaceful measures in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Ending the press conference, PM Phuc announced that the summit adopted the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN: Rising Above Challenges and Sustaining Growth.

asean leaders foresee slower growth but steady and stable recovery

Promoting socioeconomic recovery

While slower growth rates are projected for this year, ASEAN economies are expected to sustain stability. PM Phuc stated that in the latter half of 2020, the heavy burden rested upon the governments of ASEAN members and upon us as the leaders is to lead ASEAN out of this period of adversity.

At the ASEAN leaders’ interface with representatives of ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), PM Phuc shared the difficulties of the ASEAN business community during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted supply-demand chains and suspended service industries. He said ASEAN governments are committed to doing their best to support the business community and entrepreneurs to overcome challenges, quickly recover, resume services and develop production. Specifically, ASEAN leaders held the ASEAN Special Summit and ASEAN+3 Special Summit on April 14 and issued a joint statement on responding to Covid-19. ASEAN economic ministers held many meetings and proposed solutions to support businesses, such as eliminating and reducing non-tariff barriers, as well as assisting customs procedures.

PM Phuc emphasized the necessity of an economic recovery plan and the resumption of cooperation activities, adding that the process would require further efforts by governments and communities including businesses.

Business representatives also affirmed their willingness to accompany the government in response and recovery plans.

ASEAN leaders agreed to enhance ASEAN’s resilience and stressed the need to restore economic activities and international trade in tandem with keeping the pandemic in check in order to drive towards stabilizing the lives of people and businesses. The leaders said the conclusion and signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year would send a strong message to affirm ASEAN’s support for the multilateral trading system and trade and investment liberalization, and contribute to regional post-pandemic recovery.

Thu Phuong