ASEAN remains deeply concerned with Covid-19 impact, says statement

(Photo by Zahid Izzani/The Edge filepix)

(Photo by Zahid Izzani/The Edge filepix)

-A +A

SINGAPORE (Oct 27): ASEAN remains deeply concerned with the continued human cost and suffering as well as the severe disruption to societies and economies, and the devastating impact on lives and livelihoods, brought about by Covid-19 that has severely affected the region.

According to the chairman's statement, ASEAN acknowledged the ongoing whole-of-government efforts of member states, as well as a whole-of-Community approach by the grouping in advancing its collective efforts to respond to Covid-19 and recover swiftly and sustainably.

The ongoing 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits are hosted by ASEAN chair Brunei for three days from Oct 26, via videoconference.

The 10-member nation welcomed the progress on the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) and its Implementation Plan, which serves as the region’s consolidated exit strategy from the Covid-19 pandemic.

It welcomed the continued contributions from ASEAN Member States and external partners to the Covid-19 ASEAN Response Fund, which now has pledged contributions amounting to approximately US$25.8 million.

The statement said ASEAN is also looking forward to exploring the regional vaccine supply chain and self-reliance for affordable, quality vaccines for use in normal and emergency situations both at the national and ASEAN-wide levels for the benefit of its people.

This is consistent with the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on ASEAN Vaccine Security and Self-Reliance (AVSSR), the statement said.

The grouping looked forward to the timely establishment and early operationalisation of the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED).

ACPHEED would serve as a centre of excellence and regional resource hub to strengthen ASEAN’s regional capabilities to prepare for, prevent, detect, and respond to public health emergencies and emerging diseases.

“We appreciated and welcomed the support from Japan and Australia towards the ACPHEED, while encouraging other external partners to support its operationalisation.

“We urged the countries concerned to exercise utmost flexibility in the spirit of compromise to reach a decision on the selection of the host country for the ACPHEED to ensure the expeditious operationalisation of the Centre,” it said.

ASEAN also appreciated the progress on the development of the ASEAN Public Health Emergency Coordination Systems (APHECS), and the launch of the ASEAN Portal for Public Health Emergencies.

“We also recognised the importance of strengthening regional cooperation especially towards addressing the impacts of the pandemic on mental health,” it said.

The association welcomed the adoption of the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework (ATCAF) by the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) and looked forward to its early operationalisation.

In this regard, it welcomed the Post-Covid-19 Recovery Plan for ASEAN Tourism, which provides coordinated measures to be under taken by ASEAN Member States in a phased approach to safely reopen the industry while working towards a more sustainable, resilient and inclusive ASEAN tourism.

ASEAN reaffirmed its commitment to keep markets open and ensure the continued flow of trade and investment, supply chain connectivity, particularly for essential products, and for a strong and resilient post-Covid-19 economy.

To this end, it welcomed the expansion of the list of essential goods under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Implementation of Non-Tariff Measures on Essential Goods under the Ha Noi Plan of Action on Strengthening ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Supply Chain Connectivity in Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic to incorporate 107 tariff lines of agricultural and food products into the list.

“We are also exploring the possibility of extending the life span of the MOU, as well as expanding the list of essential goods given the continued uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This will further ensure the free flow of essential goods in the region and provide support to the private sector in this difficult time, as the region continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said.