ASEAN needs "whole-of-Community” approach in addressing COVID-19 pandemic
21:10 | 26/10/2021
VGP - ASEAN needs to pursue an inclusive, integrated, flexible and “whole-of-Community” approach in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, having the people and businesses at the center of these efforts, so as to actively overcome pandemic-induced hardships in the spirit of “harmonizing interests and sharing risks”.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh attends the 38th ASEAN Summit via video conference, October 26, 2021. Photo: VGP

     >>> ASEAN kicks off series of virtual summits with focus on recovery

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh made the above statement at the 38th ASEAN Summit which was held in virtual format on Tuesday morning.

Pham stressed that it is time for ASEAN to shift to a new strategy: safely adapting and flexibly responding to circumstances, and effectively containing COVID-19 while fostering recovery.

To this end, it is necessary to enhance efficiency of coordination mechanisms, improve capacity of health systems, and ensure self-reliance on vaccines and medications and raise people awareness, said Pham.

On the occasion, PM Pham announced Viet Nam’s list of earmarked medical supplies worth of millions of U.S. dollars to the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies (RRMS).

PM Pham also suggested that ASEAN should position itself in the  context of balancing and reshaping political-economic relations in the world. ASEAN must consolidate its role as the core of multi-layered processes for multilateral dialogue, cooperation and economic integration in the region.

In order to engage deeply in regional and global supply chains, raising the attractiveness and appeal of the ASEAN markets and advance the post-pandemic economic recovery process, ASEAN should consider utilizing new elements such as digital transformation, digital and circular economy, green technology, renewable energy, quality human resources, among others.

Pham also informed the regional leaders of Viet Nam’s plan to convene ASEAN Forum on Sub-regional cooperation for Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth to be held on November 30th, 2021 in Ha Noi.

The Forum is part of the efforts in synergizing sub-regional development with ASEAN’s overarching advancement, as the continuation of Viet Nam’s ASEAN key deliverables in 2020, he added.

At the 38th Summit, COVID-19 response and recovery continued to be the priorities that took up a significant amount of discussion time.

Expressing concerns over negative socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, ASEAN countries stressed that the immediate solutions should include implementing national vaccine rollout, strengthening public health system and advancing economic recovery.

At the same time, ASEAN also needs to enhance its capabilities towards vaccine resilience, thereby ensuring the equitable access of vaccine for the people.

The leaders noted the progress made in the implementation of ASEAN’s COVID-19 response initiatives, especially the vaccine procurement arrangement for ASEAN Member States by using US$10.5 million from the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund. The first vaccine batch is expected to be delivered by the 4th quarter of 2021 or 1st quarter of 2022.

While taking note of the positive progress made in implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, ASEAN countries highlighted the need to continue to effectively expedite initiatives that have yet to be commenced, and to utilize innovation, creativity, and digital transformation as catalysts for recovery.

ASEAN leaders adopted the ASEAN Travel Corridor Framework (ATCAF) and exchanged views on other feasible agreements to facilitate essential travel within the region under the ATCAF.

The leaders also actively discussed the possibility of using and mutually recognizing vaccine e-certificates.

The regional countries looked forward to the early and effective operationalization of the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies (RRMS) and ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED) for ASEAN to better tackle future emergencies.

Concluding the Summit, ASEAN Leaders adopted, noted and announced 100 documents, including important documents such as:

(i) Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on the Strategic and Holistic Initiative to Link ASEAN Responses to Emergencies and Disasters (ASEAN SHIELD);

(ii) ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Upholding Mulilateralism;

(iii) ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Blue Economy;

(iv) ASEAN Joint Statement on Climate Change to the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP);

(v) Terms of Reference for the High-Level Task Force on the ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision

(vi) Roadmap, the Consolidated Strategy on the Fourth Industrial Revolution for ASEAN.

By Thuy Dung

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