ASEAN, partners agree to promote post-COVID-19 economic cooperation

The Economic Ministers of ASEAN member states and their partner countries on August 28 emphasised the importance of further strengthening regional economic cooperation and promoting economic growth post COVID-19.

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The 8th East Asia Summit (EAS) Economic Ministers’ Meeting (Source: VNA)
In a Joint Media Statement issued after the 8th East Asia Summit (EAS) Economic Ministers’ Meeting, which was held in the form of a video conference as part of the 52nd ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings (AEM-52),  the Economic Ministers from the ten ASEAN Member States, Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States underscored the importance of strengthening regional supply chains to make them resilient and less vulnerable to shocks and to advance sustainable economic growth.

They reaffirmed their commitment to promote trade and investment, minimize disruptions to trade and global supply chains and facilitate supply chain connectivity, including for essential goods such as medical supplies, medicines, including vaccines, food, commodities and other essential supplies and services in the region.

They welcomed regional initiatives to mitigate the impact of the pandemic including the establishment of the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund, as well as the work towards the establishment of the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies and the Standard Operating Procedures for Public Health Emergencies Response.

They acknowledged the important role of initiatives which aim to ensure the equitable global distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, recognized the importance of facilitating essential movement of people across borders, without undermining each country’s efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, to stabilize the trade and investment.

The Ministers reiterated their support for ASEAN and ASEAN-centred architecture, reflected among others in the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (the Outlook), which could contribute to post-pandemic recovery in the region.

They exchanged views on how to accelerate economic growth, maintain supply chains and market stability, and strengthen the economic resilience of the EAS region post COVID-19.

They also discussed the importance of harnessing the opportunities of digital economy, and how to enhance the application and the utilization of digital technologies in the region to facilitate digital economy.

The Ministers affirmed that this is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic and this provides appropriate hard/soft infrastructure and human resources development that considers the needs and reskilling and upskilling of persons likely to lack digital skills and access to technology including women, MSMEs and other vulnerable groups, especially those living in remote and rural areas and more likely to lack digital skills and access to technology.

They also underscored the importance of collective efforts in promoting economic and social resilience in the region, and reiterated their support for the necessary reform of the WTO.

The Ministers vowed to continue to work together to realize a free, fair, transparent, nondiscriminatory, predictable, and stable trade environment, and affirmed the importance of agreed upon rules in the WTO, which can enhance market predictability and business confidence.

They agreed that any trade restrictive emergency measures put in place to address the impact of COVID-19 must be targeted, proportionate, transparent, temporary, consistent with WTO rules and do not create unnecessary barriers to trade or disruption of global and regional supply chains.

The Ministers acknowledged the significant contribution of Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) through activities that support economic integration and digital economy in the region.

They welcomed ERIA’s paper on "Accelerating restoration of economic growth, maintaining market stability and strengthening resilience of the EAS region in response to the COVID-19 pandemic", and encouraged ERIA to undertake policy-based research to improve trade and investment including making value chains resilient to shocks of EAS economies, effectively address the impending recession, promote new technologies and develop a framework for the EAS regional economic integration and development after overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, taking into account existing initiatives.
VNA