06:00 | 08/05/2020 Vietnam - Asean
(VEN) - The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Japan have agreed to support each other in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on easing its impact, enhancing economic flexibility, promoting export and solving problems faced by small- and medium-sized enterprises. The bloc, chaired this year by Vietnam, also discussed US aid for recovery from the pandemic with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
ASEAN-Japan joint statement
Immediately after an online ASEAN Special Summit and ASEAN+3 Special Summit on COVID-19 response, on April 22, economic ministers of ASEAN member states and Japan adopted a joint declaration on economic recovery and Covid-19 response. The declaration reflects ASEAN-Japan cooperation in economic and supply chain restoration and confronting consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
ASEAN economic ministers and the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan expressed serious concern over the Covid-19 pandemic and extended their deepest sympathies to the people all over the world affected by the disease. They also commended the tireless efforts and significant contribution of organizations and individuals in controlling the spread of the virus and in dealing with the impact of the pandemic.
In their statement, ASEAN and Japanese economic ministers agreed on common principles of economic cooperation related to market opening, preventing recession, sustainable development of regional and global supply chains, and searching for innovative solutions such as digitization to ensure continuous operation of businesses, including small, medium and micro enterprises.
Japan has become the second largest foreign direct investor and the fourth largest trade partner of ASEAN, while ASEAN is Japan’s second largest trade partner.
ASEAN and Japan worked closely and efficiently in the past in confronting regional disasters, the Asian financial crisis and the global economic downturn. Therefore, the ministers believe that ASEAN and Japan will work closely to overcome the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
ASEAN and Japanese economic ministers agreed to implement specific measures to assist ASEAN and Japanese businesses in dealing with the pandemic, strengthen regional and global supply chains, and restore the ASEAN and Japan economies.
Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, as the Chair of ASEAN 2020, along with ASEAN foreign ministers and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended a special online conference on the Covid-19 pandemic on April 22 and 23. Participants discussed and agreed upon directions and measures to control the pandemic, affirming their readiness to work closely and assist each other in many other regional and international issues.
The ministers also agreed to promote information and experience sharing, policy coordination and improvement of emergency response capacity, focusing on the urgency of vaccines and medicine availability and equal access to vaccines.
ASEAN praised the US$35.3 million assistance provided by the US for ASEAN’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and proposed that the US support ASEAN initiatives including the establishment of a Covid-19 pandemic response fund and medical supplies warehouses for emergencies.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US committed a US$500-million emergency assistance package for pandemic control worldwide, giving priority to laboratory capacity improvement, disease control and rapid response. On this occasion, the US announced a number of proposals including the US-ASEAN Health Futures initiative and the US-ASEAN Health Futures Alumni Network, and pledged to support ASEAN countries and the ASEAN Secretariat in building disease control infrastructure in the region.
Pompeo affirmed his country’s commitment to ASEAN states as long-term strategic partners in coping with the Covid-19 pandemic and economic recovery.
The ministers pledged to assist citizens affected by the pandemic, and work closely with each other to minimize the pandemic’s impact on socioeconomic development, ensure price stability, maintain regional and global supply chains, and discuss long-term economic restoration measures through the ASEAN-USAID Partnership for Regional Optimization within the Political-Security and Socio-Cultural Communities (PROSPECT) program and the IGNITE program, among others.