Special commission proposed to jointly address Covid-19 measures in Asean

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KUALA LUMPUR (June 5): The Asean Business Advisory Council (Asean-BAC) is calling on economic ministers in the regional bloc to establish a special commission to jointly address the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in Asean member countries.

In a statement today, the council said Asean countries should work together to ensure regional reach for the Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available, instead of "tripping each other" to be the first in line and "leaving some member states deprived and singularly exposed".

Asean-BAC chairperson Doan Duy Khuong said the proposed special commission is to ensure urgent and coordinated action in such efforts amid rising protectionist measures adopted by individual nations in these trying times.

"The business sector fully supports Asean governments in their efforts to make their countries safe and restart their economies. [The] proposal to set up the special commission is to ensure urgent and coordinated action in those efforts," he said.

The proposal, named the Outline for Asean Action (OAA), was presented to the Asean economic ministers who met in a special virtual conference in Jakarta, Indonesia yesterday, the council said in the statement.

Asean-BAC, which has been working closely with its knowledge partner CIMB Asean Research Institute (CARI), has compiled a detailed matrix of urgent and economic recovery steps that the regional grouping must take.

CARI is headed by chairman Tan Sri Dr Mohd Munir Abdul Majid who is also a council member of Asean-BAC.

Under the proposal, the council has identified six short-term priority measures to address the Covid-19 crisis, including full involvement of the private sector in protecting lives and restarting the economy.

Among the measures identified are increasing the mass testing of Covid-19 within the region, eliminating non-tariff barriers and non-tariff measures, and concluding the signing of regional comprehensive economic partnerships within a short time frame.

The remainders are ensuring customs automation and streamlining, easing the flow of essential goods and services intra-Asean, and the inclusion of the private sector in government discussions within the region, including Asean-BAC and its partners.

"The performance of a better integrated regional economy in Asean and East Asia has become critical in the recovery process. Asean has to hang together if it is not to hang separately," said Mohd Munir.

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