Vietnam has demonstrated its strong leadership in spearheading a collective regional response to COVID-19, said Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Dato Lim Jock Hoi.
Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Dato Lim Jock Hoi speak at the online Special ASEAN and ASEAN+3 Summits
He made the remarks in an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA)’s reporter in Jakarta, Indonesia, following the online Special ASEAN and ASEAN+3 Summits on the COVID-19 response chaired by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on April 14.
The summits were a concrete demonstration of ASEAN’s solidarity and leadership manifested in concrete regional cooperation with its Plus Three neighbours, especially in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
According to the Secretary-General, the summits were also an opportunity for ASEAN to enhance cooperative relationships between ASEAN Plus Three counterparts, together to respond COVID-19. Especially given the pandemic has shown that the virus knows no national boundaries, and a collective response will complement and strengthen, national and local responses.
The ASEAN health sector, as one of the first regional responders to the COVID-19 outbreak, has been reaffirmed by the ASEAN leaders in its mandate to concretise collective efforts from all stakeholders and sectors, to support a whole-of-government and whole-of-health system approach with a stronger regional response in mitigating the impact of this pandemic.
“On the economic front, ASEAN has renewed our commitment to ensure continued macroeconomic and financial stability and liquidity; ensure supply chain connectivity and production and distribution continuity particularly of essential supplies such as medical supplies, food and agricultural products; and mitigation of the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable households and individuals, affected sectors, and small, micro, and medium enterprises,” he said.
The summits have also reaffirmed the need for a post-pandemic recovery plan, he said, adding that this plan will involve collaboration among industries, private sector and other actors.
The leaders also urged greater collaborative effort in information and knowledge sharing not only in areas of medical development but also on domestic policies related to social and health security given the vast impact of COVID-19 on communities, the Secretary-General said.
“Vietnam has demonstrated strong leadership in spearheading a collective regional response to COVID-19. Its Chairmanship theme of building a cohesive and responsive ASEAN is very relevant given the situation we find ourselves in. Indeed, ASEAN has come together and responded quickly to the pandemic since February, and today, through the two summits. ASEAN’s strong response is in large part due to Vietnam’s leadership in encouraging our continued dialogue and collaboration,” the ASEAN chief stressed.
“The convening of today’s summits conducted via video conference has been an achievement in its own right. Vietnam has shown that we can overcome the challenges of COVID-19 if the region works together in unity and with resilience,” he concluded.
Malaysia suggests post-pandemic economic recovery plan for ASEAN
Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (Photo: https://www.malaymail.com/)
Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, at the Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19 in the form of teleconference hosted by Vietnam on April 14, proposed the setting up of an economic recovery plan for the region after the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled.
He said ASEAN's plan should not just to provide financial support but also social safety, food supplies and education as well.
Muhyiddin said in a statement that the plan should include measures to ensure a steady stream of food, essential goods and medical supplies, to the 600 million inhabitants in the region.
Besides that it should also ensure the provision of capacity and critical infrastructures to ensure the smooth flow of trade, be it from air, land or sea, he added.
Muhyiddin urged all ASEAN nations not to put in place unnecessary trade restrictions when it comes to medical supplies, food and essential items.
ASEAN needs to develop into a growth centre and be a new resource, serving not only people in the region but also those around the world, he suggested.
He said his country supports the establishment of the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund to increase our emergency stock in order to face any future outbreaks.
The Malaysian PM also informed the country's key strategies to address issues stemmed from the epidemic, including the Movement Control Order.
Korean diplomat praises outcome of ASEAN+3 Summit on COVID-19
Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks at the summit (Photo: VNA)
Jakarta (VNA) - The most important outcome of the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19 is the solidarity and sense of cooperation shown by all ASEAN leaders, the Korean President and Chinese Premier and Japanese Prime Minister in the joint fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, said a Korean diplomat.
Ambassador of the Republic of Korea (RoK) to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Lim Sungnam made the comment in an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA)’s reporter in Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 14.
“As you might be aware, G20 and EU have held their summit meetings to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and the way forward. But ASEAN Plus Three has had their first online, their first videoconferences to talk about the impact of COVID-19 and the joint solutions for the problems we are faced with. And the joint solutions for the future have been a very meaningful step forward in our efforts to eradicate COVID-19,” he said.
Lim stressed that the RoK is ready to cooperate with ASEAN in the join fight against COVID-19. More specifically, the RoK is prepared to make contributions to the ASEAN-Korea Cooperation Fund for various projects and various assistance programmes for ASEAN member states in their fight against COVID-19, he elaborated.
At the same time, the RoK is also ready to host web conferences - a kind of online conference - for the ASEAN member states, doctors and medical specialists together with their Korean counterparts, so that they can share their best practices as well as their know-how and experiences in their fight against the pandemic, Lim said.
The RoK is also very much interested and is ready to hold the ASEAN-Korea health ministers meeting so that ASEAN and the RoK can engage in very specific and concrete discussions about how the sides work together to combat COVID-19.
“The motto of Vietnam as Chair of ASEAN for this year is cohesive and responsive. And indeed, Vietnam has shown the cohesive and responsive leadership by organising the special summit on COVID-19 for the ASEAN Plus Three in a very timely manner,” the ambassador stressed.
Chinese Premier calls for joint efforts against COVID-19
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang calls for joint efforts against COVID-19 (Photo: CCTV)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on April 14 emphasised strengthening the awareness of a community with a shared future for humanity and closer cooperation to clinch an early victory against COVID-19 in East Asia, according to China's Xinhua News Agency.
Li made the remarks in Beijing while attending the Special ASEAN+3 Summit with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK) chaired by Vietnam via video link.
As COVID-19 is spreading globally, the ASEAN 3 countries are also affected, Li said, noting that the virus is gravely threatening the health, safety and lives of people around the world.
Xinhua quoted the premier as saying that the ASEAN+ 3 countries have gained valuable experience of jointly tackling crises and put in place mechanisms for enhancing emergency preparedness.
He highlighted the importance of stronger coordination, saying that it is essential to make a collective response to the epidemic.
The Chinese leader called on the ASEAN+3 countries to demonstrate their positive and special role in fighting the epidemic and revitalising the economy, and to send a message of partnership, solidarity and mutual assistance among East Asian countries to boost confidence in the region and beyond.
Thai PM: No country could fight against COVID-19 threat alone
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (centre) speaks at the summit. (Photo: VNA)
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha emphasised that no country could fight against the COVID-19 threat alone while addressing the online Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19 response on April 14.
During the summit chaired by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Thailand and its ASEAN partners agreed to set up the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and draw upon related lessons and experience.
Thailand was of the view that all parties must work together to control the spread of the virus and flatten the curve, as well as craft a collective approach to mitigate socio-economic impacts in a comprehensive manner.
The Thai PM also proposed five significant approaches, saying ASEAN needs to mobilise the energy and efforts of all sectors to jointly address this challenge in a holistic manner.
He proposed ASEAN and the ASEAN Plus Three Countries jointly establish a COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund by reprioritising 10 percent of existing funds from the ASEAN Development Fund and cooperation funds with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK) and ASEAN Plus Three, or another agreed upon rate. The Fund shall be used to procure test kits, personal protective equipment and medical tools as well as support research and development in medicines and vaccines to help ASEAN become more self-reliant.
ASEAN should build understanding and empathy in the cooperation to facilitate transport of goods and logistics, customs clearance, and border trade. This will ensure that consumers will have access to a sufficient supply of medical tools and equipment, medicines and essential goods in a timely manner during this crisis, Prayut said.
According to the Thai PM, the role of technology should be promoted in providing innovative solutions to tackle challenges. ASEAN should also support the wider use of digital economy, innovative technology and e-commerce in the region, especially in helping MSMEs to take advantage of online platform. Digital Payment Connectivity and the use of Interoperable QR Code should be expedited to further facilitate regional trade and commerce.
ASEAN should draw upon the lessons and experience from the fight against COVID-19 to help build self-immunity to economic impacts from future public health emergencies or environmental challenges, he said.
The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy is an alternative approach to promote sustainable socio-economic development and enhance internal strengths with an emphasis on self-reliance, he said.
The role of the ASEAN Secretary-General, in his capacity as ASEAN’s coordinator for humanitarian assistance, should be strengthened to cover cooperation in the case of emergency situations such as epidemics, the Thai PM said.
RoK President vows full support for ASEAN in COVID-19 fight
RoK President Moon Jae-in takes part in the online Special ASEAN+3 Summit (Photo: Yonhap)
President of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Moon Jae-in on April 14 pledged every possible support for ASEAN member nations and other countries in handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
Speaking at the online Special ASEAN+3 Summit (ASEAN countries with China, Japan and the RoK) on the COVID-19 response hosted by Vietnam, Moon stressed the necessity to offer quarantine and medical supplies in a timely manner to those in urgent need.
He affirmed that his country will secure additional funding for humanitarian assistance and respond to the fullest extent possible to any calls for help from other countries, including ASEAN.
The RoK is also discussing ways to utilise the ASEAN-RoK Cooperation Fund, he said.
He voiced hope that the region will overcome the crisis at an early date by mobilising all available resources.
Moon cited trust funds at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and separate funding by the ASEAN+3 members.
Regarding the economic fallout of the pandemic, the RoK President proposed maintaining the "essential flow" of trade, investment and people-to-people exchanges.
The RoK leader said the ASEAN+3 group can play a role as a catalyst to put global supply chains back on track, while expressing the hope that global supply chains will be made operational to the maximum extent beginning with ASEAN+3.
Moon suggested that ASEAN+3 countries explore ways to allow the cross-border travel of essential figures such as business leaders, medical professionals and humanitarian workers.
Int'l media highlight online Special ASEAN, ASEAN+3 Summits on COVID-19
The Special ASEAN Summit and Special ASEAN+3 Summit on the COVID-19 response, which took place online on April 14 and were chaired by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, have received intensive coverage in international media.
The summits were the first held in the videoconferencing format since the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established in 1967.
According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), Vietnam touted its success so far in containing the pandemic with extensive quarantining and physical distancing.
Vietnam has only 260 or so cases and no fatalities, the French news agency noted.
In his opening remarks to the Special ASEAN Summit, PM Phuc hailed the bloc’s work in fighting the pandemic to date but warned that COVID-19 “has badly impacted people’s lives and their socioeconomic situation ... challenging stability and social security.”
It added that Vietnam will use the summit to propose funding be made available to deal with the pandemic, building emergency medical stockpiles and sharing resources. Hanoi will also call for an “exit strategy” for battered member economies.
Meanwhile, the US-based Associated Press (AP) said that, forced apart by the coronavirus pandemic, ASEAN leaders linked up by video to plot a strategy to overcome a crisis that has threatened their economies and kept millions of people in their homes under lockdown.
It quoted PM Phuc as telling the Special ASEAN Summit that “it is in these grim hours that the solidarity of the ASEAN community shines like a beacon in the dark.”
Diplomats said that solidarity is now crucial as the region battles COVID-19 and all ASEAN member countries have been hit by infections.
“The COVID-19 crisis is a crisis like no other in the past, not just in its potentially calamitous scale but in the hope of containing and stopping it through unstinting cooperation and the fullest of trust between all countries,” the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs was quoted by AP as saying.
Major news agencies and newspapers also highlighted the Special ASEAN+3 Summit, attended by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, and President of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Moon Jae-in.
According to China’s Xinhua News Agency, despite joining the summit from different venues, ASEAN leaders and dialogue partners need to raise closer viewpoints, extend their consensus, and put forth more efficient action plans to soon contain the pandemic.
Regional countries have demonstrated a sense of humanitarianism and good neighborliness by supporting each other with emergency medical supplies, including face masks and protective gear, the agency said.
Japan’s Kyodo News, meanwhile, said leaders are also expected to agree on cooperating in the development of a vaccine and treatment for COVID-19, as well as in economic and fiscal policies to mitigate the impact of the virus on businesses and households.