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Chairing the plenary session of the summit, which took place in the form of a video conference, the Vietnamese leader urged the ASEAN member nations to exert further efforts to complete the bloc’s cooperation goals for 2020 and effectively respond to regional challenges, including COVID-19.

As the pandemic is still hitting the region and the world, he expressed his hope that the ASEAN countries will demonstrate stronger determination to both contain the spread of disease and promote sustainable development.

The PM asked other ASEAN leaders to focus their discussion on orientations to foster cooperation in building the ASEAN Community, including the implementation of priorities of 2020 and measures to control the pandemic and to recover socio-economic development in the region.

During the session, ASEAN leaders reviewed the progress of the building of the ASEAN Community since their 35th Summit, and directed the implementation of cooperation plans between the group and its partners. They also compared notes on regional and international issues of common concern.

ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi delivered a report on the recent cooperation among its member countries, and Vietnamese Deputy PM, Foreign Minister and Chairman of the National ASEAN 2020 Committee Pham Binh Minh briefed participants on the bloc’s efforts and cooperation in the fight against COVID-19.

Speaking highly of Vietnam’s role as the ASEAN 2020 Chair, participants said with significant results in controlling the pandemic, ASEAN has sent out a strong message on a regional organisation that is cohesive and proactive and playing a key role in the regional development.

They also stressed the need to improve skills of workers, considering this as an important factor for ASEAN’s development, especially in the digital age, and compared notes on regional and international issues of common concern.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc underlined the importance of strengthening the ASEAN's central role the region, as well as bolstering its relations with partners for peace, sustainable development and effective responses to emerging challenges.

ASEAN leaders approved the ASEAN Chair Statement on the outcomes of the 36th ASEAN Summit, the ASEAN Leaders' Vision Statement on a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN, and the ASEAN Declaration on human resources development for the changing world of work./.

PM attaches importance to firms’ recovery in building ASEAN Community

The Governments of ASEAN member countries will spare no efforts to help the business community surmount challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic to quickly recover and resume services and production, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on June 26.

The Vietnamese PM made the statement while joining a virtual dialogue between ASEAN leaders, partners and representatives of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) as part of the 36th ASEAN Summit.

The Governments always view businesses as a nucleus ofV development and prosperity, as well as a force to realise development goals and targets in the building of the ASEAN Community, he said.

Solutions to support businesses had been put forth during previous meetings of ASEAN leaders, such as removing and reducing tariffs and opening the market, among others.

PM Phuc thanked the ASEAN BAC for its recommendations to ASEAN leaders and agencies to take prompt actions.

At the 36th ASEAN Summit, the leaders assessed COVID-19 prevention and control efforts in the region and exchanged views on future steps in building the ASEAN Community and expanding external relations.

Underlining the necessity of the implementation of recovery plans to resume cooperation activities, ensuring that no one will be left behind, the PM Phuc affirmed that further endeavours of the Governments and people in the ASEAN Community, including businesses, are needed.

In that spirit, firms are asked to voice their ideas and suggestions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, in a bid to recover production towards a cohesive and strong ASEAN Community, he noted.

Thai PM proposes three paths for actions to advance ASEAN in post-COVID-19 era

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Thai Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha attends the 36th ASEAN Summit via a teleconference (Source: www.pattayamail.com)


Thai Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha attended the 36th ASEAN Summit in the form of a teleconference together with leaders of the 10 ASEAN member states and ASEAN Secretary General.

Speaking at the event, the Prime Minister stated that the spread of COVID-19 pandemic has transformed Thailand and the global community into the ‘new normal’ way of life, while the world is also moving into a volatile geopolitical phase which has impacted international security and stability.

ASEAN should cooperate to counter these trends by strengthening regionalism and the spirit of giving and sharing, as well as preserving ASEAN Centrality in the regional architecture to avoid being forced to take sides, he said.

The PM took the opportunity to propose three paths for actions to advance ASEAN in the post-COVID-19 era, including ‘More connected ASEAN’, ‘Stronger ASEAN’ and ‘Better-immuned ASEAN’.

Regarding ‘More connected ASEAN’, Prayut urged member states to urgently make ASEAN truly connected by accelerating the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 and promoting connectivity and green infrastructure development as to create seamless and sustainable ASEAN.

He also called on ASEAN to start considering shared paths in easing measures that have become obstacles to traveling in order to help restore businesses and people-to-people connectivity.


The second path is striving for a ‘Stronger ASEAN’ by ‘building strength from within’ through advancing economic integration and expediting the signing of RCEP within this year so that ASEAN recovers economically.

The Prime Minister also proposed promotion of investment in digital infrastructure as the digital economy is crucial key that will increase the value of ASEAN’s GDP. ASEAN must also build its strength on biodiversity by using technology and innovation to produce high valued goods and services as well as environmentally friendly, in line with “Business Model BCG”.

About the third one, ‘Better-immuned ASEAN’, Prayut called on ASEAN to prepare for volatilities and challenges that could arise in the future by creating long-term immunity.

He also emphasised that Thailand has applied the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy which stresses building strength from foundation and taking moderation, reasonableness and good immunity into consideration, along with the sustainable development agenda. In addition, the COVID-19 crisis has clearly demonstrated that ASEAN must uphold putting people at the center and gives importance to looking after every group of the population, particularly vulnerable groups which include migrant workers.

In closing, the Thai Prime Minister and other ASEAN leaders adopted the “ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN” and expressed Thailand’s determination in intensifying ASEAN’s cooperation and solidarity, while seeking partnerships with external partners to be able to respond to all internal and external challenges from now on in an effective manner.

Also the same day, at the ASESAN Leaders’ Special Session on “Women’s Empowerment in the Digital Age”, PM Prayut commended Vietnam for recognising the importance of empowering women and designating “Women’s Empowerment in the Digital Age” as part of the 36th ASEAN Summit and related meetings, which is also in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 5 on “achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls”.

Thailand stands ready to support ASEAN in empowering women sustainably whether in economic, politic and social and ASEAN should prioritise issues such as promoting financial access to empower women who own micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and promoting the role of women in the healthcare sector.

Cambodian PM urges ASEAN to take advantages of COVID-19-related opportunities

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Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the COVID-19 pandemic has created good opportunities for ASEAN countries to boost regional trade at the ASEAN Leaders’ Interface with Representatives of ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), which took place on June 26 within the framework of the 36th ASEAN Summit.

The pandemic has once again reminded the bloc that ASEAN still has shortcomings and heavily relied on external factors, he said.

With the emerging trends brought by COVID-19, the shift of global trade and supply chains, ASEAN must be well-prepared to earn maximum benefits from this, he stated.

Hun Sen reiterated that the engagement of private sector is indispensable for the development of the ASEAN Community, particularly amid the COVID-19.

He noted the private sector must not solely rely on the government and must navigate and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic themselves as well.

Chairing the meeting, PM Phuc affirmed that ASEAN governments are committed to supporting the business community in overcoming challenges brought about by COVID-19 so that they will soon recover, resume services and boost production.

He talked about obstacles facing the ASEAN business community due to the pandemic, including interrupted supply-demand chains, halted services, and weaker financial market.

Phuc stated that ASEAN governments considered the community the centre of growth and prosperity and the force that helps realise development goals in building the ASEAN Community.

He said their economic role has become clearer amid the pandemic when the group is affected, people’s lives and livelihoods also face difficulties.

The 36th ASEAN Summit was hosted by Vietnam on June 26 in the form of a video conference, with discussions focusing on the bloc’s COVID-19 control and prevention and its future steps to build the ASEAN Community and expand external relations.

Singaporean PM calls for greater cooperation among ASEAN members

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Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong


Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called for greater economic integration and cooperation and unity among ASEAN member nations to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from permanently damaging their economies.

Lee made the call at the 36th ASEAN Summit which was held on June 26 via video conference under the chair of Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Chair of ASEAN 2020.

In line with the summit's theme, "Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN", Lee proposed three ways to boost cooperation, namely sharing technologies to contain the virus and curb new infections, procuring equitable, steady and affordable supply of COVID-19 treatment and vaccines when they become available and maintaining the flow of trade.

Regarding the treatment of COVID-19 patients, Lee spoke of the need to avoid shortages and improve the supply of affordable and quality vaccines.

He told other leaders that Singapore is not only investing heavily in the research and development of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics, but also building its vaccine manufacturing capacity, enabling manufacturers to use its facilities to meet the demands in the region.

On trade and the economy, Lee said that the economic consequences of the pandemic "will linger long after the virus has been contained".

He noted that many countries are turning inwards but said an open, stable and integrated ASEAN will attract investments to the region.

 

On tourism, a sector badly battered by the pandemic, Lee proposed that a protocol be developed to progressively and safely lift the current intra-ASEAN restrictions on travel.

Singapore has begun to ease the restrictions on travellers from some countries, including those from ASEAN, he noted, and will further ease them as the public health risk subsides.

ASEAN members confident in Vietnam’s diplomatic capability: Analyst

The 36th ASEAN Summit, held online on June 26, presents a challenge not only for the ten-nation bloc but also for its 2020 Chair, Vietnam, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute has said.

In an article published in the Nikkei Asia Review on June 25, Le Thu Huong said that Vietnam joined ASEAN in 1995, nearly three decades after it was founded. Its economy lagged behind the six existing ASEAN members at that time, but the subsequent quarter of a century has seen it post impressive growth, despite the recent effect of the US-China trade war on the region.

She wrote that Vietnam is seen to have performed strongly in the fight against COVID-19, earning respect from wealthier and more developed member states such as Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia for its suppression of the disease.

The country remains economically less developed than many other ASEAN member states but is poised to minimise the economic hit from COVID-19, recovering faster from the post-pandemic global recession and adapting to new opportunities better than most of its neighbours, she said.

It has proved a capable host in previous stints as ASEAN Chair, which rotates annually. It has also taken a pivotal role in conflict management in the East Sea, emerging as the region’s frontline defender of the territorial status quo. More importantly, it has expressed strong support for ASEAN’s institutional relevance in the region.

For all these reasons, she went on, Vietnam’s fellow ASEAN members appear confident in Hanoi’s diplomatic capability, even in the trying circumstances of an online and relatively underprepared summit.

Whatever the outcome of the virtual summit, however, the group needs to come to terms with the fact that no single member can restore its diplomatic centrality. That requires a collective effort of the willing and the committed, Huong wrote.

Indonesian newspapers highlight 36th ASEAN Summit

Indonesian newspapers highlighted the 36th ASEAN Summit which was held on June 26 via video conference under the chair of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

The Insider Stories quoted PM Phuc’s opening remarks as saying that strengthening the cooperation between the countries around the region is a crucial thing that must be done during the pandemic period to accelerating the regional economic recovery.

PM Phuc noted the COVID-19 has wiped out the achievements that humans have accumulated over the years, robbing and threatening the lives of millions of people. He said the World Bank projected that the global economy would experience a serious decline with a 5.2 percent contraction and income per capita would drop by 3.6 percent.

Seventy to a hundred million people would fall into extreme poverty, and the risk of social instability would mount. More than 40 percent of all manufacturing industries and business sectors across countries are being directly affected by lockdown and restrictions imposed for disease control.

“While the entire world is stretched thin in the fight against the pandemic, irresponsible acts and acts in violation of international law are still taking place, affecting the environment of security and stability in certain regions, including in our region,” the newspaper quoted PM Phuc as writing.

Meanwhile, ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi added that apart from the epidemic was a real demonstration of the members’ solidarity and leadership manifested in concrete regional cooperation. According to him, such solidarity is needed in response to this pandemic.

The Tempo website cited Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi as saying that at the summit, President Joko Widodo talked of two major challenges faced by ASEAN in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, namely COVID-19 mitigation and its impact on social economy.

According to Kompas, President Widodo told the summit that he had assigned relevant ministers to discuss the possibility of opening an ASEAN tourism corridor, saying that this is very important to accelerate economic recovery and indicate the strategic significance of the ASEAN Community.

Kontan and Republika newspapers said the Indonesian President emphasised the importance of enhancing cooperation among ASEAN member nations in the fight against COVID-19.

Vietnam capable of boosting ASEAN cooperation against COVID-19: Singaporean expert

The impressive settlement of the COVID-19 pandemic and the relatively early re-opening of its economy have given Vietnam the ability to assist other countries, including ASEAN members, said Assistant Director (ASEAN) at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs Jessica Wau.

She told the Vietnam News Agency on June 26 that if it is not hit by a second wave of COVID-19, Vietnam will have favourable conditions to further enhance the strong cooperation within ASEAN in coping with the pandemic via meaningful dialogue and prioritisation of immediate needs in the region.

With regard to the 36th ASEAN Summit chaired by Vietnam on June 26, the expert said this event had previously been delayed due to COVID-19, so a teleconference was the best solution in the current context.

The online summit demonstrated the commitments to regular dialogue in ASEAN, Jessica Wau said, noting that during the COVID-19 response and post-pandemic economic recovery process, discussions are more important than ever as they will help ASEAN countries get the latest updates and coordinate to devise common solutions.

To help recover after the outbreak, the bloc’s members should not neglect ASEAN integration or the establishment of safe tourist corridors, especially for business purposes, she recommended.

Vietnam has fulfilled role as ASEAN Chair over last six months: Lao official

Vietnam has fulfilled its role as ASEAN Chair over the past six months and successfully organised the 36th ASEAN Summit, according to Deputy Foreign Minister and head of the ASEAN Senor Officials’ Meeting delegation of Laos Thongphane Savanphet.

He made the comment during an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency following the teleconferenced 36th ASEAN Summit on June 26.

The official congratulated Vietnam on its successful organisation of the summit and highly valued the country’s leadership and organisation capacity.

At the event, he noted, ASEAN leaders discussed a number of issues, especially the prevention, management and response to the spread of COVID-19, focusing on how the countries can work with one another to deal with the pandemic’s impacts.

The leaders scrutinised ways to enhance the ASEAN Community’s cohesion in the face of emerging challenges in the region and the world. They agreed to push ahead with realising the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, particularly building the three pillars of politics – security, economy and society – culture, of which under Vietnam’s chairmanship, the bloc is making mid-term reviews after five years of implementation.

In response to some countries and regions’ intention to become dialogue and development partners of ASEAN, the leaders also paid attention to how to expand the bloc’s relations while still sustaining its solidarity and centrality.

During the summit, ASEAN leaders also touched upon regional and international issues of common concern, Thongphane Savanphet said, noting that although the time for these matters was short, the leaders discussed in a straightforward and efficient manner.

For the rest of this year, the Deputy Minister said his country expects Vietnam will continue augmenting the cohesion and strength of ASEAN, especially in implementing different priorities that Vietnam has prepared, including promoting and protecting regional peace and stability, stepping up the ASEAN Community building, and bolstering the bloc’s relations with partners.

Besides, boosting post-pandemic socio-economic recovery in the region is of critical importance as the spread of COVID-19 in many regional countries has slowed down, he noted, adding that this is an issue that Vietnam, as ASEAN Chair, should keep bringing into play its coordinating role in.

The Lao official expressed his belief that under Vietnam’s chairmanship, ASEAN will continue to successfully carry out the initiatives and agreements its members have put forth this year.

Covering the 36th ASEAN Summit, the Laophattana newspaper of the Lao Journalists Association reported that Prime Minister of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith spoke highly of the bloc’s successes in the past year.

He stressed the necessity to continue reinforcing cooperation so as to prevent a second outbreak of COVID-19 via information and experience sharing, medicine and vaccine development, and comprehensive socio-economic recovery, according to the paper.

ASEAN leaders show determination to overcome pandemic

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on June 26 voiced his belief that ASEAN member nations will be able to overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the 36th ASEAN Summit held in the form of a teleconference, he affirmed that as a strong community established in more than five decades ago, ASEAN can go through this time of hardship to deal with socio-economic impacts caused by the pandemic, and change the situation for the better.

ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi said that ASEAN countries and dialogue partners have taken actions to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.

He spoke highly of the prompt and decisive actions of ASEAN members and their sound collaboration in COVID-19 response, as well as with their ASEAN Plus Three partners.

Meanwhile, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen affirmed that the 36th ASEAN Summit reflects Vietnam’s leadership as Chair of ASEAN despite obstacles brought by the pandemic.

He noted that ASEAN needs a clear and cautious economic recovery plan in the coming time, which devises scenarios for the gradual opening of borders in the region, intra-bloc trade and the recovery of the pandemic’s hardest-hit areas.

Thai media highlights 36th ASEAN Summit

Major newspapers of Thailand published a number of articles on the 36th ASEAN Summit and other activities hosted by Vietnam as ASEAN Chair 2020.

English-language daily newspaper Bangkok Post of Thailand ran an article saying that this year marks the half-way point of the grouping's 10-year journey toward the realisation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, which envisaged deeper integration after the agreement to establish the ASEAN Community back in 2015.

It is the ideal time for the bloc to assess their work in achieving those aspirations, it underlined.

“The COVID-19 pandemic as well as the economic slump may force ASEAN leaders to look inwards, focusing on their own crisis, over the grouping's mission. But at the same time, some optimists believe the pandemic gives ASEAN an opportunity to work as a group to escalate cooperation under the human security framework,” noted the article.

Meanwhile, the PBS broadcasting centre highlighted that Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha proposed three paths for actions to advance ASEAN in the post-COVID-19 era at the summit on June 26.

The full speech of Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the opening ceremony of the 36th ASEAN Summit and other related articles were published at the website of the Thai Government’s Public Relations Department.

In an interview with the Vietnam News Agency, Dr Balaz Szanto of the International and Strategic Studies Faculty at the Webster University of Thailand underlined that Vietnam is an important member of ASEAN.

The country’s leadership as Chair of ASEAN will influence major issues, including the settlement of territorial disputes at sea and others in the ASEAN agenda, he noted.