36th ASEAN summit highlights COVID-19 response, recovery

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Friday opened its 36th summit chaired by Vietnam via video conference, which focused onthe COVID-19 epidemic response, post-pandemic recovery and further cooperation with partners.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the summit, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said he expected the summit to be an opportunity to “once again affirm the strong solidarity, political will, and determination of ASEAN member countries to overcome difficulties, to determinedly head forward”, reports Xinhua news agency.

The ASEAN needs to continue to effectively control the COVID-19 epidemic and overcome the consequences of the epidemic while recovering and keeping on economic development, Phuc said, calling for continued efforts to complete the bloc’s cooperation and integration goals in 2020.

With the theme “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN”, the summit will discuss the regional comprehensive post-pandemic recovery plans, implement initiatives including establishing the ASEAN COVID-19 response fund, setting up a reserve for medical supplies to meet urgent needs during epidemics, building the ASEAN standard procedures of epidemic response in case of health emergency, according to the Prime Minister.

He said the ASEAN will constantly expand and deepen equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with the partners.

“We are strongly committed to economic liberalization and integration, striving to complete the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).”

Established in 1967, the ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The 36th ASEAN summit, which was scheduled for April in central Vietnam’s Da Nang, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.