The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) concluded its 37th summit and related meetings on Sunday, with priorities placed on measures to respond to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and commitments to multilateral cooperation.
Addressing the closing ceremony from Hanoi, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said leaders of the bloc exchanged views and agreed on many drastic measures to promote cooperation to overcome challenges posed by Covid-19, and to accelerate economic recovery in Asean countries.
Many initiatives on cooperation in response to Covid-19 and disease risks have been announced and come into force, including the Covid-19 Asean Response Fund, the Asean Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies, and the Asean Regional Center on Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases, Phuc said.
The leaders also adopted the Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework and its synchronous Implementation Plan to support people and businesses to soon overcome the consequences of Covid-19 epidemic and stabilize the socio-economic life, the prime minister said.
Many important issues on creating a new driving force for the relationship between Asean and its partners have been agreed on by the leaders, which affirms a strong commitment to multilateral cooperation as well as economic liberalization, Phuc said.
Notably, under the framework of the event, representatives from Asean countries and five partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement Sunday, launching the world’s biggest free trade bloc.
The signing is of significant importance not only to Asean, but also to global trade as it will help to mitigate the negative impacts of Covid-19, boosting business operation activities and create jobs for people, Phuc told the press briefing held on Sunday afternoon.
The first ever Asean Women Leaders’ Summit was also held over the four days, aiming at promoting women’s role and contribution to the bloc’s development in the post-pandemic period.
During the meetings, a record high of over 80 documents have been adopted and signed, Phuc said.
The 37th Asean Summit and related meetings took place from Thursday to Sunday via video conferences under the chair of Vietnam. After the meetings, a ceremony was held to hand over the Asean Chairmanship to Brunei Darussalam.
Founded in 1967, Asean groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. SOVEREIGNPH WITH XINHUA