|PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony
He told the meeting, held online for the first time, that the COVID-19 outbreak has exerted its devastating effects, wiping out all recent economic gains made by countries, in addition to claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and threatening millions more.
The PM quotes a recently-issued World Bank report which outlines how the global economy is projected to suffer a serious decline this year, with per capita income set to fall by 3.6%. Indeed, the consequences of the pandemic will likely put anywhere between 70 million to 100 million people into extreme poverty, increasing the risk of social instability, whilst over 40% of manufacturing industries will be directly affected by countermeasures taken against the disease.
The COVID-19 outbreak has further exacerbated the inherent challenges in the socio-political and economic landscape globally, according to the PM, as well as posing threats to multilateral institutions and enforcement of international laws.
While the world struggles to fight against the epidemic, there appears to be a number of irresponsible actions that violate international laws occurring, affecting the security environment and stability in some regions, including the East Sea in Southeast Asia, the Vietnamese PM said.
He noted that the rapid development of science-technology and digital transformation worldwide is presenting both opportunities and challenges for various countries, especially those with developing economies. Conflicts stemming from social inequality, discrimination, and stigma seem to be increasingly worsening due to the impact of the epidemic, therefore widening the gap between countries even further.
In this context, PM Phuc said that nations need to promote solidarity and responsible co-operation among the international community, with major powers, and multilateral and regional organisations forming the core.
|This is the first time ASEAN leaders have held the summit in the online format
PM Phuc also pointed out that the changing geopolitical landscape and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a number of opportunities and challenges for ASEAN five years following the bloc agreeing to establish a united community.
After reviewing the far-reaching consequences that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the region, PM Phuc stressed that ASEAN has taken swift action, proactively responded to and united its member states in the fight. ASEAN countries have actively shared information, experience and coordination in disease control and prevention.
As a unified bloc, with the highest level of political commitments, and a comprehensive approach, ASEAN as a whole has shown the firm bravery of a committed group in combatting the disease, he affirmed.
To mark the occasion, the PM thanked ASEAN leaders and partners for their co-operation alongside Vietnam, in its capacity as ASEAN Chair 2020, in their joint efforts to handle the epidemic, as they showed the strong commitments at high-level ASEAN and ASEAN + 3 meetings on COVID-19 back in April.
The great responsibility taken on by ASEAN members during the second half of the year, according to PM Phuc, is to steer the bloc through this difficult period to testify to the value and sustainable vitality of a resilient and dynamic community.
PM Phuc expressed his hope that the 36th ASEAN Summit will present a prime opportunity for regional countries to once again affirm their solidarity, strong political will, and absolute determination to overcome challenges and progress.
While ASEAN should continue to effectively control and strive to overcome the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, it should simultaneously put in more efforts to complete the goals set for ASEAN co-operation and integration for the year, he said.
|An art performance welcoming the opening of the event
Following the opening ceremony, a special meeting of ASEAN leaders took place to discuss women empowerment during the digital age. This was followed by a meeting between ASEAN leaders and the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), a dialogue between ASEAN leaders and ASEAN youths, in addition to a dialogue between ASEAN leaders and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC).
PM Phuc is also scheduled to hold a press conference to report on the outcomes of the 36th ASEAN Summit.