|PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc chairs ASEAN Leaders' Interface with Representatives of ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC)
Driesmans said that despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first official summit hosted by Vietnam as the ASEAN Chair 2020 has achieved some important results. ASEAN leaders pursued an ambitious regional integration agenda, with the adoption of the “ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN: Rising above Challenges and Sustaining Growth.”
He said with this adopted document, ASEAN leaders reaffirmed their commitment to pursue progress in many areas, further promoting the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. In particular, the Statement underlines the need to effectively respond to COVID-19 and promote socio-economic recovery in the region.
ASEAN leaders agreed to support ASEAN's overall recovery plan through a number of important initiatives, including the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies, and the ASEAN Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Public Health Emergencies.
In addition, ASEAN leaders also approved the Hanoi Action Plan on enhancing ASEAN economic cooperation and sustaining supply chain connectivity, demonstrating their determination to ensure food, medicine, and resources, medical supplies and other essential products in the region.
Ambassador Driesmans said that ASEAN has achieved all these important results in the spirit of the summit’s theme For A Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN during Vietnam’s Chairmanship Year.
Ambassador Driesmans affirmed that the EU will continue to support ASEAN's efforts to build a prosperous, safe and united community for mutual benefit. He noted the EU and ASEAN are among the first partners to hold a Foreign Ministers Meeting on COVID-19, and the two sides will continue to exchange information to identify ways to deal with the crisis.
According to the diplomat, the EU has funded 18 new COVID-19 research projects for ASEAN scientific organizations. The EU and its member states have to date raised more than EUR350 million to support health systems and economic recovery in ASEAN.
In addition, the EU will continue to cooperate with ASEAN to ensure supply chain connectivity. At the same time, it will continue to expand free trade and investment agreements in the region, after ratifying the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Vietnam (EVFTA), which eliminates up to 99% of the tax lines.
Furthermore, he said the two sides have been cooperating closely on security and national defense, including maritime security. They are now working closely to deal with non-traditional security threats related to issues such as resource scarcity, prevention of infectious diseases, natural disasters, human and drug trafficking, and transnational crimes.
The EU considers ASEAN an indispensable partner. Working together, we can maintain the order based on international law and uphold global common values, affirmed the ambassador.