ASEAN parliaments seek paths to post-pandemic trade, growth

14:00 | 25/09/2020 Vietnam - Asean

(VEN) - The 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41), hosted by Vietnam in its capacity as ASEAN 2020 chair, took place from September 8-10 under the theme of “Parliamentary Diplomacy for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community”.  

asean parliaments seek paths to post pandemic trade growth

Participants included General Secretary of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General, and 30 delegations with more than 380 members, including 230 parliamentarians, parliament leaders of member countries, and AIPA observer countries.

Together with ASEAN, AIPA has made significant contributions to regional connectivity and cooperation for development of the organization’s member states. In a bid to consolidate solidarity within the ASEAN bloc, AIPA and parliaments of member countries worked closely with governments to build the ASEAN Community, as well as promote the central role of ASEAN in maintaining regional peace and stability.

For the first time in its history the AIPA General Assembly was held online amid the complicated developments of Covid-19, reflecting the Vietnamese National Assembly’s flexibility as well as its contributions to reforming AIPA operations.

While it is severely affecting Southeast Asian economies, the Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged them to work together to adapt to the situation and restore the economy. Deputy Chair of the National Assembly Phung Quoc Hien said AIPA-based economic cooperation has had profound impacts on different cooperation fields in the region.

Apart from sharing experiences in confronting the pandemic and minimizing the negative impacts of Covid-19, representatives of parliamentary delegations said the pandemic is posing big challenges for the world economy. They agreed that economic cooperation for development of a cohesive ASEAN Economic Community is important to minimize the epidemic’s negative socioeconomic impacts. AIPA members need to introduce and realize legislative and budget measures to support economic recovery, protect the most vulnerable groups of society, and continue to support and supervise governments’ implementation of commitments to opening markets and ensuring circulation of goods and services among countries in the region.

Expected growth recovery

Deputy Chair of the National Assembly’s Committee for External Relations Nguyen Manh Tien said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecast that the gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Southeast Asia would shrink from 4.4 percent in 2019 to minus 2.7 percent in 2020, and recover to 5.2 percent in 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic is not just a health crisis but also a development crisis that has broken international trade and supply chains. Therefore, economic connectivity and cooperation in promoting recovery, and digital economy development will play an important role in strengthening ASEAN economic linkages as well as its readiness to respond to the pandemic’s challenges.

The National Assembly delegation of Vietnam introduced proposals to strengthen economic cooperation within the ASEAN Community. Specifically, it proposed that member countries accelerate exchange of tourism and health information and control the pandemic’s spread, research airline tourism among “green leaf” countries and form safe travel zones within ASEAN. Other proposals include building infrastructure to connect countries in the region, enhancing transport connectivity, cooperation in the Mekong sub-region and other ASEAN sub-regions, improving the legal framework to promote trade facilitation and ensuring uninterrupted circulation of goods and supply chains in the region. Vietnam also suggested taking advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 opportunities to overcome disadvantages of economic lockdown, speeding up ratification of regional trade agreements, and prioritizing efforts to finalize negotiations and sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2020.

Security challenges

Vietnam’s National Assembly Chair Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan voiced her expectation of deeper relations among AIPA, member parliaments and observer parliaments.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, Ngan said step ahead for AIPA to implement its guidelines and targets, including promoting solidarity, understanding and close cooperation between ASEAN member countries’ parliaments and accompanying the governments in building a community for peace, stability and people’s interests.

She underlined the traditional and non-traditional security challenges facing the region and the world, saying AIPA should enhance solidarity and parliamentary diplomacy, adhere to international law, the UN Charter and ASEAN Charter in order to build a cohesive and responsive ASEAN Community.

She stressed that sustainable peace and security are foundations for long-term and prosperous development, and said AIPA supports ASEAN’s signing of the RCEP this year and welcomes the establishment of an ASEAN Covid-19 response fund.

The 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41) wrapped up in Hanoi via teleconference on September 10 after three working days. The AIPA chair was then handed to Brunei.

Hoa Quynh