Singaporean, Indonesian diplomats highlight 37th ASEAN Summit significance
18:17 | 12/11/2020

VGP - The 37th ASEAN Summit presents a timely occasion for ASEAN members to promote ASEAN-led initiatives, strengthen engagement with Dialogue Partners, and continue affirming ASEAN’s central role in the region.

Singaporean Ambassador to Viet Nam Catherine Wong and Indonesian Ambassador to Viet Nam Ibnu Hadi talked about significance of the 37th ASEAN Summit and the RCEP at recent exclusive interviews wihout our reporter.

ASEAN open for business, trade amidst COVID-19 

Singaporean Ambassador to Viet Nam Catherine Wong

Regarding the significance of the organization of the 37th ASEAN Summit amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singaporean Ambassador Catherine Wong stressed that: The Summit caps off an extraordinary year. Although COVID-19 prevented physical meetings from taking place, thanks to Viet Nam’s strong leadership, ASEAN continued to make strong progress this year. 

ASEAN Members have worked closely to deal with the immediate challenges brought about by the pandemic, show the rest of the world that the bloc remains open for business and trade, and strengthen ASEAN unity and relevance.

Specifically, the 37th Summit will be a good opportunity for ASEAN to continue moving forward with the COVID response efforts, including through the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, and the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies. 

The Leaders will also take stock of concrete progress made on other key initiatives like the post-2025 ASEAN Community Vision and ASEAN Smart Cities Network. 

The Summit also presents a timely occasion for us to promote ASEAN-led initiatives, strengthen engagement with our Dialogue Partners, and continue affirming ASEAN’s central role in the region, the diplomat said.

Of course, ASEAN Members are aware that the Summit comes at a time of sharpening geopolitical tensions. Singapore hopes that the Summit will provide a constructive platform for parties to express their views and seek ways to resolve these issues peacefully, and in line with international law, she stressed.

“Singapore hopes that the RCEP–which has been many years in the making–will be signed at the upcoming Summit,” asserted Catherine Wong. 

This will send a resounding message of ASEAN unity and centrality, while boosting confidence in the stability and integration of the regional economy. Amidst the current economic downturn, it is critical for ASEAN to show the world that we are open for business, with a stable and integrated economy conducive for foreign investment, she added. 

RCEP-big achievement for ASEAN countries and five partners

Indonesian Ambassador to Viet Nam Ibnu Hadi 

Indonesian Ambassador to Viet Nam Ibnu Hadi highlighted the importance of the 37th ASEAN Summit, particularly in the mid of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This pandemic has created an unprecedented situation to the whole world and it affects every aspect of life and it affects negatively to the world economy so this ASEAN Summit is very crucial as it will show to the world, not only to ASEAN countries, how ASEAN can contribute to revitalize world economy.

ASEAN is one of the engines of economic growth in the world. So the result of the Summit will be observed and waited by the whole world. So that is very important, the diplomat said.

Under its Chairmanship, Viet Nam is very determined to making ASEAN move forward in this year 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. It is quite challenging because most of the meetings now are online.

They cannot meet physically to discuss together. ASEAN they usually get together like a family. They talk informally.

Although they have formal meetings, they also have informal dialogues which are also crucial. But now it does not exist anymore, now it is only online so that is why it is very important.

According to the Ambassador, the ASEAN Summit held this week will come up with a number of achievements in how to handle the COVID-19, how ASEAN together can make a pool of resources, how ASEAN together can make a pool of fund for dealing with the health issues and ASEAN together will also discuss and hopefully will launch what we call a Travel Corridor Arrangement. This is a mean to facilitate the businessman, especially within the ASEAN region because this business is very heavily negatively impacted.

So to some extends, ASEAN should facilitate this. How they can facilitate the business’ activities would be recovered but at the same time we also still have to follow the health protocol.

So this is why we want to launch what we called the Travel Corridor Arrangement.

When asked about the significance of the RCEP, Ibnu Hadi said that: RCEP will be a big achievement. Once signed, it will create another momentum on how to revitalize, how to re-energize, how to recover the economic activities, and this part, ASEAN together with the other five partner countries together will try to make the economy to be recovered again, noted the diplomat.

Initiated by ASEAN in 2012, the RCEP is a free trade agreement among the ten member countries of ASEAN and five partners including China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. Once signed, it would create one of the largest free trade areas in the world.

RCEP will cover more than 2.2 billion people, or 30% of the world population, a total GDP of more than US$25.6 trillion (29.3% of world GDP) and trade value of more than US$10.4 trillion (27.4% of global trade).

By Thuy Dung

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