Virtual 36th ASEAN Summit underscores cooperation, integration in addressing challenges

Updated: June 28, 2020 Source: Xinhua News Agency
fontLarger fontSmaller

The 36th ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit, which was held via video conferencing on Friday under the chair of Vietnam, emphasized the importance of unity, cooperation and integration to address the challenges brought about by rapid changes in the regional and global landscape.

Speaking at a press briefing on Friday evening, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said that the summit was a success with the presence of representatives from all member states, and adopted the Chairman's Statement and several documents which reflected the bloc's high consensus in important discussed issues.

According to the prime minister, the ASEAN member countries discussed issues including the COVID-19 pandemic control and socio-economic recovery, the building of a strong community, as well as expanding and deepening ASEAN's external relations with partners.

In the Chairman's Statement of the 36th ASEAN Summit released Saturday, the ASEAN leaders announced the establishment of the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund. This comes with the commencement of the process of moving forward the ASEAN's efforts to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and develop a comprehensive recovery framework effective in taking the region through the reopening and recovery stages.

Recognizing the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the region and the world, the ASEAN leaders reaffirmed their strong commitment to implementing targeted policies to alleviate its adverse impact.

The leaders have tasked the ASEAN Community Councils to undertake relevant works in their respective pillars to contribute to the ASEAN comprehensive recovery plan to be submitted to the 37th ASEAN Summit, according to the Chairman Statement.

ASEAN member states remained committed to keeping markets open for trade that is free from unnecessary trade restrictions as well as for investment, and to coordinating the implementation of pertinent policy measures to mitigate the economic impacts of the epidemic, said the statement.

The ASEAN leaders noted in the statement that free trade agreements and comprehensive economic partnership agreements are important in transforming the region into a global ASEAN and in contributing to the post-pandemic recovery and in creating resilient supply chains.

While welcoming the progress made for the full conclusion of the negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement and looking forward to the signing of this deal by the end of this year, they noted that the agreement demonstrates "the firm commitment of ASEAN and its partners to upholding an open, inclusive and rules-based multi-lateral trading system."

The summit adopted the ASEAN Leaders' Vision Statement on a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN, which was released Friday, showing the ASEAN's strong commitment to upholding ASEAN unity, solidarity and centrality while enhancing ASEAN's capacity to embrace the opportunities and effectively address emerging challenges.

The ASEAN leaders also jointly adopted the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work, which commits ASEAN member states to promote lifelong learning. The view of this move is preparing the region's human resources to adapt to the changing world of work due to technological advances, demographic transition and greening economies.

The leaders looked forward to the finalization of a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder roadmap to translate those commitments into actions for notation at the 37th ASEAN Summit, according to the summit's Chairman's Statement.

With the successful holding of the Special Session of the ASEAN Leaders on Women Empowerment in the Digital Age, ASEAN countries also reaffirmed their steadfast commitment and staunch efforts to promote gender equality and empowerment.

The special session was held for the very first time within an ASEAN Summit, which was a vivid manifestation of ASEAN's contributions to the effective realization of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

During the framework of the 36th ASEAN Summit, other meetings including the ASEAN Leaders' Interface with the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), representatives of ASEAN youth and ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) also took place.

These initiatives have further demonstrated the ASEAN's consistent approach of engaging multi-stakeholder contribution to the ASEAN Community building process, toward an inclusive, people-centered, people-oriented ASEAN Community, according to the Chairman's Statement.

The 36th ASEAN summit had been scheduled for April in central Vietnam's Da Nang but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Established in 1967, the ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Editor: Ting Liu