Joint statement on ASEAN's economic resilience to cope with COVID-19

The ASEAN Economic Ministers on March 11 agreed to issue a joint statement on strengthening the ASEAN's Economic Resilience in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 at the 26th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Retreat in the central city of Da Nang.
March 13, 2020 | 06:56
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Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh and ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi (L). Source: VOV

In the joint statement, the ASEAN Economic Ministers expressed concern over the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which has adversely affected the lives of people as well as economies across the globe.

They underscored the importance of ASEAN solidarity and the spirit of a cohesive and responsive ASEAN community in facing the outbreak of COVID-19 and similar challenges.

The statement underlined the urgent need for joint efforts to avoid further adverse impacts in the global economy due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

It pointed out that counter-measure restrictions on cross-border movements should be based on public health considerations and should not unnecessarily restrict trade within the region.

The regional economic leaders consented to step up ASEAN economic co-operation with external and development partners to with a particular focus on enhancing regional supply chains to make them more resilient and less vulnerable to internal and external shocks.

They emphasized that the regional bloc should also take a score of measures to continue dealing with non-tariff barriers, particularly those that impede the smooth flow of goods and services in supply chains and refrain from imposing new and unnecessary non-tariff measures.

The statement also accentuated the building of existing trade facilitation platforms in the ASEAN, such as the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), to accelerate and support supply chain connectivity and refrain from actions that can create unnecessary inflationary pressures or adversely impact on food security in the region, and endeavour to ensure the availability of essential goods and commodities.

In his remarks, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, Vice Chairman of the National ASEAN 2020 Committee affirmed that as Chair of ASEAN 2020, Vietnam has demonstrated its active role in ensuring preparations and launching ASEAN economic priority initiatives for 2020.

The country’s initiatives approved by ASEAN members will help ASEAN not only increase its response capability and take collective action measures to achieve each nation's goals, the common goals of ASEAN, but also contribute to maintaining ASEAN as a centre connecting and creating appropriate and effective platforms within the cooperation framework between ASEAN member states and other partners in the world, he noted.

Also at the 26th Retreat, the regional economic ministers dilated on orientations to fast-track the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

According to the Industry and Trade Ministry representative, the 10 member countries are poised to sign the deal at the end of this year

At present, among the stakeholders, only India has yet to reach an agreement on opening its market for partner countries, he added.

ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi called on ASEAN economic officials to redouble efforts to accelerate the signing of the agreement.

At the ASEAN Summit in 2019, the countries’ leaders set a goal of signing the RCEP in 2020, he said, adding that he hopes after this meeting, the concerned parties would be able to finalize all necessary documents in May and sign the deal at the end of the year.

Once signed, the deal will create the largest free trade area in the world with around 3.5 billion people and accounting for 30% of the global GDP.

Launched in November 2012, the RCEP encompasses 10 ASEAN member countries –Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and six ASEAN partners – China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, India and New Zealand./.

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