Remarks by Samdech Techo HUN SEN Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia At the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on Covid-19 14 April 2020

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  • His Majesty the Sultan, Esteemed ASEAN Plus Three Leaders;
  • Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!

At the outset, I am happy to join with ASEAN and plus Three leaders through this Video Conference. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for initiating this Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on Covid-19 to discuss on our collective responses to contain the spread of this disease. Taking this opportunity, I highly commend the efforts made by the Plus Three Countries in effectively containing the spread of the disease and continuing to implement highly effective preventative measures.

At the same time, on behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia, I would like to express my profound gratitude to the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of Japan for their assistances to Cambodia in fighting against Covid-19. The Government of the People’s Republic of China has dispatched to Cambodia a team of doctors specialising in fighting against Covid-19, both civilians and military, along with necessary medical equipment and masks, while the Government of Japan is planning to provide Cambodia with a US$20 million grant for the purchase of medical equipment, medicines and ambulances.

In fact, the spread of Covid-19 has​ augmented concerns and uncertainty in regional and global socio-economic development cooperation. This has made the fight against Covid-19 our common challenge, even though each of our countries is facing the spread of Covid-19 at different stages.

In this context, we must have timely responses and concerted efforts, as well as an effective coordination within both ASEAN and ASEAN Plus Three frameworks, adhering to an inclusive and comprehensive approach. As such, the ASEAN Plus Three Framework is an important and highly potential mechanism allowing us to further strengthen cooperation in responding to this global challenge. In this spirit, I would like to share some of my views as follows:

First.Sharing experiences” is key to contain and prevent the spread of Covid-19. ASEAN must learn from the successes and best practices of the Plus Three countries, especially the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Korea, in effectively containing and preventing the spread of the disease. In this regard, Cambodia would like to call for closer cooperation among relevant institutions within the ASEAN Plus Framework to share experiences, aiming at guaranteeing the well-being of our people in the whole region. At the same time, we should look at the possibility of using the existing ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Fund, which has been used in strengthening East Asia Cooperation including the health sector, to support our efforts in fighting against Covid-19.

Second. “Saving life is of utmost importance”: We must establish a common mechanism to promote the sharing of medical techniques, experiences and knowledge about this disease, with an aim to protect, prevent, diagnose, treat and monitor, especially the vulnerable groups of people such as the elderly and frontline medical doctors who are directly battling the disease. At the same time, we must also intensify research collaboration among relevant laboratories, hospitals and universities, to accelerate the prevention and treatment of this infectious disease. In addition, the Plus Three countries should expand the production capacity of necessary medical equipment, and facilitate the supply of such in order to promptly meet the high demand within the ASEAN Plus Three countries.

Third. “Reducing economic risks”: We must enhance closer coordination and dialogue in order to identify joint measures that can avoid severe impacts on production chains, economic activities and trade in the region, by adhering to the principles of open economy, trade and investment, and maintaining smooth flows of goods over the borders, by air, land and sea. Cambodia would like to request an arrangement of an urgent discussion to find joint solutions under the cooperation framework within ASEAN Plus Three—such as ASEAN Plus Three financial cooperation, tourism cooperation, labor cooperation as well as cooperation in other sectors.

Fourth. East Asia is a region with high economic and trade potential, with an economy worth more than US$23.5 trillion and a total population of over 2 billion with increasing income. Therefore, ASEAN and the Plus Three countries must harness this potential and turn it into a new source of growth for the region through a more broad and in-depth enhancement in trade, investment and economic cooperation in other sectors. The spread of Covid-19 is also clearly demonstrating that, in order to promote the economic strength of the region, we must diversify sources for growth by shifting from our reliance on external demand to regional demand. In this regard, Cambodia would like to encourage all participating countries to this Summit to promote integration and connectivity in all sectors, with a special attention to the least developed countries (LCDs), to contribute to the economic recovery and continue improving the livelihood of our people.

Fifth. “Strengthening digital connectivity”: In the context of applying the principle of “social distancing” to aviod infection, some of the custom and ways of lives of our people—such as work, education, meeting and so on—have changed. In this regard, Cambodia would like to seek a possibility that the Plus Three countries could share and support the technology in sectors such as E-government, E-business and E-learning, to ensure sustainable development within bilateral, sub-regional, and multilateral frameworks.

Thank You !