ASEAN ministers urge health protection - not trade protectionism

09:24 | 24/03/2020 Vietnam - Asean

(VEN) - Member nations of ASEAN have agreed that restrictions on cross-border movements in Southeast Asia should be based on public health considerations stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, and should not unnecessarily restrict trade within the region. Economic ministers of the 10-nation trade pact adopted the decision at their 26th retreat in the central city of Da Nang.

asean ministers urge health protection not trade protectionism

Vietnam’s priorities

Vietnam, in its role as ASEAN Chair in 2020, proposed a series of priorities for economic development, intra-regional trade and investment, and responses to the Covid-19 disease.

Vietnam’s 12 priorities were approved by the other member countries, while the last one also received support from the ministers but required further research into technical details before they could be officially launched.

Member countries agreed on 62 measures to be prioritized in the ASEAN Agenda 2020. They include trade in goods and services, the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) mechanism, the investment environment, facilitation of trade and skillful worker movement, competition policies, consumer protection, intellectual cooperation, e-commerce, and boosting the role of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as ASEAN globalization.

Vietnam’s priorities are to promote regional economic integration and connectivity, strengthen partnerships for peace and sustainable development, and enhance the organization’s capacity and operational efficiency.

“In 2020 and the coming years, we aim to double intra-ASEAN investments. This is a very basic issue to increase competitiveness,” Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said.

Vietnam will continue to coordinate with the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council to promote linkages between private companies and the state and among businesses in ASEAN member states.

asean ministers urge health protection not trade protectionism

Responding to Covid-19

Vietnam also proposed a joint statement on maintaining ASEAN supply chains and facilitating access to input materials, especially for SMEs, given that the Covid-19 pandemic has seriously affected people’s health and economies around the world.

“The ministers agreed to release a joint statement in response to the outbreak of Covid-19. This is an opportunity for ASEAN member countries to restructure supply chains in order to create a framework for closer and more comprehensive connectivity and cooperation,” Tran Tuan Anh said.

The ministers also agreed to continue addressing non-tariff barriers, particularly those that impede the smooth flow of goods and services in supply chains, and refrain from imposing new and unnecessary non-tariff measures.

Nor Zelina Momin from Brunei’s Ministry of Finance and Economy praised Vietnam’s priorities in promoting intra-regional trade and investment, creating a foundation for greater resilience of ASEAN member countries and less vulnerability to internal and external shocks.

Donna Glutom from the Indonesian delegation praised Vietnam in its role as ASEAN Chair in 2020, especially for proposing priorities to deal with new challenges.

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said the ministers discussed how ASEAN would recover after the Covid-19 pandemic is controlled and the need to build a sustainable growth model while boosting cooperation among ASEAN members and with partners. He also said the ministers focused on restarting negotiations for the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) and cooperation with the Republic of Korea (RoK).

Nguyen Huong & Vu Le