In the joint statement, the ministers expressed concerns over the outbreak of the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), which has affected the lives of people as well as economies around the world.

They emphasized the “importance of ASEAN solidarity and the spirit of a cohesive and responsive ASEAN community in facing the outbreak of COVID-19 and similar challenges”.

The ministers acknowledged the current efforts of each ASEAN member nation, ASEAN agencies and other economies in containing the spread and impacts of COVID-19, and commended contributions of medical and non-medical staff in assisting people affected by the epidemic.

The ministers recognized the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on the economy, including the tourism, manufacturing, retail, and other service sectors, as well as the disruption of supply chains and the financial markets.

Delegates at the event

They emphasized the urgent need for concerted efforts to avoid further adverse impacts in the global economy brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The ministers proclaimed that countermeasure restrictions on cross-border movements should be based on public health considerations and should not unnecessarily restrict trade within the region.

They also agreed to take a collective course of action to mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19 and resolved to remain committed to keeping the ASEAN market open for trade and investment as well as increasing regional information sharing and coordination efforts in responding to the economic challenges resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.

The actions aim to establish close rapport with industry stakeholders to reinforce confidence in Southeast Asia as a trade and investment hub and tourism destination in the region and make the most of technologies and digital trade to allow businesses, especially the micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to continue operations amidst the COVID-19 outbreak

Besides, the ministers also vowed to strengthen resilience and sustainability of the supply chains through the promotion of better transparency and agility, and the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 (MPAC).

The ministers affirmed to enhance ASEAN economic cooperation with external partners to include initiatives aimed at strengthening regional supply chains to make them more resilient and less vulnerable to internal and external shocks.

They highlighted the need to build on existing trade facilitation platforms in the ASEAN, such as the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), to promote and support supply chain connectivity and refrain from actions that can create unnecessary inflationary pressures or adversely impacts on food security in the region, and endeavor to ensure the availability of basic goods and commodities.

The ASEAN should also take measures to continue addressing non-tariff barriers, particularly those that impede the smooth flow of goods and services in supply chains and refrain from imposing new and unnecessary non-tariff measures, the joint statement noted.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprises 10 member countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: VNA