Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Dato Lim Jock Hoi
In an interview with the Vietnam News Agency’s correspondent, he pointed out that despite having to deal with the impact of COVID-19 and natural disasters, Vietnam has provided strong leadership in keeping the region cohesive and responsive to these challenges, placing ASEAN Centrality and the interest of the region’s people at the forefront of work.
Vietnam’s Chairmanship theme this year, “Cohesive and Responsive”, is both prescient and highly relevant in the face of COVID-19, which is considered to be the defining global health crisis.
“In addressing this challenge, Vietnam has successfully rallied the collective will and resources of the region, especially in synchronising ASEAN’s response to the pandemic,” he emphasised.
This “Cohesive and Responsive” spirit is aptly expressed through the adoption of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and Implementation Plan during the ASEAN Summit held last month, he continued.
The development of the framework and its implementation plan galvanised all the ASEAN Community Pillars and Sectoral Bodies toward a coordinated regional response, as well as charting the path for an inclusive and resilient socio-economic recovery.
He went on to note that amidst geostrategic uncertainties, Vietnam’s Chairmanship also strengthened the ties of friendship and deepened trust among ASEAN member nations, and with external partners through intensified cooperation.
“The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, following eight years of negotiations with ASEAN at the driving seat, stands as a testament to the region’s convening power and leadership in advancing an open, inclusive, and rules-based economic architecture”.
The ASEAN’s Secretary-General said that every achievement of the regional bloc is unique and commendable in their own way. This year, member countries have been outstanding in continuing their work despite labouring under various degrees of lockdown and quarantine measures.
“As the world came to a near standstill, ASEAN continued to progress in community-building agenda, remained united and open for business,” he stressed.
He voiced his delight that ASEAN was able to achieve its key deliverables for this year, which includes the conclusion of the RCEP, the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the implementation of non-tariff measures on essential goods under the Hanoi Plan of Action, and the adoption of the Roadmap for Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work.
The fact that ASEAN was able to realise all of these initiatives amidst experiencing an unprecedented challenge has, in many ways, affirmed the organisation’s success, he noted.
At the same time, ASEAN must be prepared to respond to other potential crises in the future, he said, adding that it can do this by taking into account global trends and geostrategic developments.
He reiterated that above all, ASEAN must remain united, agile and resolute in working towards the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 as well as implementing the Comprehensive Economic Recovery Plan which is vital to the future economic growth./VNA