The following is the full text of the ASEAN Plan of Action on Strengthening ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Supply Chain Connectivity in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, which was adopted at the teleconferenced 36th ASEAN Summit on June 26.
The ASEAN Leaders' Interface with Representatives of ASEAN Business Advisory Council as part of the teleconferenced 36th ASEAN Summit on June 26 (Photo: VNA)
HANOIPLAN OF ACTION ON STRENGTHENING ASEAN ECONOMIC COOPERATION AND SUPPLY CHAINCONNECTIVITY IN RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
This Plan of Action implements the Declaration of the Special ASEANSummit on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) adopted by the ASEAN Heads ofState/Government at a Special ASEAN Summit on 14 April 2020, in particular, themandate to implement the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Statement on StrengtheningASEAN’s Economic Resilience in Response to the Outbreak of COVID-19, issued on10 March 2020, and to explore a temporary arrangement to preserve supply chainconnectivity during the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This Plan of Action demonstrates ASEAN’s determination to work closelyto identify and address trade disruptions, with ramifications, on the flow ofessential goods, including food, medicines, and medical and other essentialsupplies in the region. This is part of concerted efforts to not only containand mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the region butalso to strengthen supply chain connectivity to make supply chains moreresilient and less vulnerable to similar challenges in the future.
This Plan of Action will be implemented in accordance with the rightsand obligations of the ASEAN Member States under the General Agreement onTariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 and other WTO covered Agreements, the ASEANEconomic Community Blueprint 2025 and other ASEAN internal Agreements, such asthe ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement, the ASEAN Trade Facilitation Framework, theMaster Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025, and other relevant ASEANAgreements.
This Planof Action does not create rights or obligations under international law.
I. AREAS OF COOPERATION
ASEAN Member States will ensure the smooth flow of essential goods,including food, medicines, and medical and other essential supplies associatedwith combating the COVID-19 pandemic and facilitate timely information sharingamongst the ASEAN Member States with regard to trade-related measures on theseessential goods and supplies. ASEAN Member States will also facilitateinformation exchange on the best practices of Member States in handlingCOVID-19, and to undertake initiatives as well as risk mitigation efforts toprevent the further spread of infectious diseases including COVID-19.
1.1 Refrain from imposing unnecessary non-tariff measures during theCOVID-19 pandemic. This would include the consideration to not apply againstany ASEAN Member State export prohibition or restrictions within the meaning ofArticle XI of the GATT 1994 to essential goods, including food, medicines, andmedical and other essential supplies, for the purpose of combating the COVID-19pandemic, except as provided under Article XI:2 (a) GATT and other WTOprovisions.
1.2 Promptlyinform all ASEAN Member States of any trade-related measure, through the ASEANSecretariat, including the application of export prohibition or restriction,and/or the removal of export prohibition or restriction on essential goods,including food, medicines, and medical and other essential supplies if necessary, so asto ensure local needs and to protect public health in the context of thepandemic as soon as practicable. Also, to promptly publish and update suchtrade-related measures for transparency.
1.3 Enhance cooperation amongst ASEAN Member States to ensuresecurity of essential goods, including medical, food and other essentialsupplies in ASEAN by – on a best endeavour basis – informing all other ASEANMember States as soon as practicable in the event of surplus production.
1.4 Promote sharing of information and best practices in handling thepandemic, business consultation support, and public-private sectorcollaboration efforts to respond to challenges that economic and business sectorsin the region have faced.
1.5 Facilitate the smooth flow and transit of essential goods,including food, medicines, and medical and other essential supplies bound forthe other ASEAN Member States through their respective land entry points, seaand air ports, including transit and transhipment points while ensuringcompliance with the regulations of each ASEAN Member State on safety standardsand quality for those essential goods.
1.6 Encourage dialogue between local government authorities ofprovinces of ASEAN Member States sharing borders to discuss solutions forcustoms clearance of essential goods, including food, medicines, and medicaland other essential supplies while ensuring compliance of preventive measuresagainst COVID-19 with national regulations.
1.7 Expedite release of all essential goods, including food,medicines, and medical and other essential supplies at all land entry points,sea and air ports, including adopting or maintaining, where practicable, theprocedures on facilitating customs clearance and procedures allowing for theearly and digital submission of import documentation and other requiredinformation, allowing for the use of electronic means, to the extent allowed bylaws and regulations of each ASEAN Member State, for purposes of commencingprocessing prior to the arrival of the products.
1.8 Endeavourto abide by the:
i. World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 to allow free pratique to cargo ships – i.e. the permission to enter a port, discharge or load cargo or stores; and
ii. International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Statement on 19 March 2020 to ensure that commerce by sea is not unnecessarily disrupted, by taking a practical and pragmatic approach to maintain the ability for shipping services and seafarers to deliver vital goods, including medical supplies and foodstuffs.
1.9 Supportthe International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) COVID-19 Declarationadopted on 9 March 2020, and endeavour to facilitate entry, transit anddeparture of air cargo containing the products classified as essential goods,including food, medicines, and medical and other essential supplies.
1.10 Intensify consultations witha view to addressing the implementation of this Plan of Action for betterunderstanding of the measures adopted on essential goods, including food,medicines, and medical and other essential supplies for the purpose ofcombating COVID-19.
1.11 Facilitate and promotecooperation for the production of and access to medicines and vaccines used forCOVID-19 medical treatment, using appropriate TRIPS flexibilities, to protectpublic health from negative impacts of the pandemic; be willing and ready toshare with other AMS the supply sources of raw materials for production of themedicines and vaccines used for COVID-19 treatment, when possible.
1.12 Strengthen collaboration/communication among ASEAN Member States toeasily address issues on cross-border movements of essential goods, includingmedical, food and other essential supplies.
1.13 Foster cooperation among ASEAN Member States to ensure regionalfinancial safety nets and financial stability as well as to mitigate theimpacts of the pandemic on regional economy and finance.
II. STRENGTHENING SUPPLY CHAIN CONNECTIVITY
ASEAN Member States will ensure that the response to the COVID-19pandemic is not only for the short-term. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed thevulnerability of supply chains in the regions. Therefore, efforts should alsobe geared towards strengthening supply chain connectivity in the long-term.
2.1 Collaborate with external and developmentpartners to strengthen regional and global supply chain resilience andsustainability including the promotion of local currency settlement to enhancetrade and direct investment flows in the region, and to be less vulnerable tointernal and external shocks similar to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2.2 Leverage on technologies to put in place a robust mechanism forregional information sharing and coordination in responding to economicchallenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
2.3 Encourage sharing of information and best practices on newtechnologies, systems or mechanisms adopted to facilitate trade such as onlineplatforms, streamlining of processes, implementation of programs or policies insupport to traders, importers and suppliers to ensure the smooth flow ofessential and critical goods and services.
2.4 Build onexisting trade facilitating platforms in ASEAN to promote and support supplychain connectivity and ensure the unimpeded flow of goods and services insupply chains, as well as to increase regional resilience through variousefforts, including promoting regional food security and energy security and facilitating theenvironment for the possibility of the shifting of production business models.
2.5 Take proactive action in enabling an effective trade facilitationto ensure the flows of goods amongst ASEAN Member States and intensify effortsto address barriers to the smooth flow of essential and critical goods,including food, medicines, and medical and other essential supplies, andservices.
2.6 Strengthen engagement with stakeholders such as the privatesector by having them as significant partners in strengthening regional supplychains, to instil investment confidence, promote business opportunities, andstrengthen supply chain connectivity.
2.7 Promote the use of science, technology and innovation, digitaleconomy, and provide mechanisms to facilitate customs clearance and processingto allow businesses, especially the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)to continue operations amidst the economic challenges such as the COVID-19pandemic while ensuring responsible business practices, with observance of therelevant rules and regulations of each ASEAN Member State including those ondigital related platforms, and empowering their business to access the regionaland global market and staying competitive in the era of digital economy in thelong run.
2.8 Strengthen regional and global supply chain to fully purposecombating COVID-19 and its economic impacts without prejudice to ASEAN MemberStates’ rights and obligations under the WTO.
2.9 Identify and implement appropriate measures/initiatives to boostconfidence in Southeast Asia as a trade and investment hub, and tourismdestination in the region, in close collaboration with relevant industrystakeholders.
2.10 Continue the implementationof the ASEAN Work Program on Electronic-Commerce in support to businesses thatwill use technologies and digital economy to continue operation.
III. INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISM
3.1 Designate national contact points for the purpose of implementingthis Plan of Action promptly following the adoption of this Plan of Action.
3.2 Report the progress in the implementation of this Plan of Actionto the ASEAN Economic Community Council, through the Senior Economic Officials Meeting.
DONE on the Nineteenth Day of June inthe Year Two Thousand and Twenty./.