On the Outcomes of the Special ASEAN Summit on Covid-19 and the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19 via Video Conference
14 April 2020, Phnom Penh
Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, attended the Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19 and the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19 via video conference on 14 April 2020. The Meetings were chaired by Viet Nam as the Chair of ASEAN for 2020 with the following outcomes:
The Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19
The ASEAN Heads of State/Government met for the first time via video conference under the Vietnamese Chairmanship for 2020 to discuss on how ASEAN could work collectively to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the socio-economic impacts that it has brought about to the region.
The ASEAN Leaders underscored the need to strengthen regional solidarity and cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 in the spirit of a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community through the exchanges of information, experiences and best practices in clinical treatment as well as enhancing policy coordination in mitigating the economic and social impacts from the pandemic, safeguarding the well-being of the ASEAN peoples, and maintaining the socio-economic stability.
The ASEAN Leaders expressed their commitment to keep the ASEAN markets open for trade and investment in order to strengthen the resiliency and sustainability of regional supply chains, especially for food, medical and essential supplies. In this connection, the ASEAN Leaders tasked the Economic Ministers and Senior Economic Officials to explore necessary arrangements to preserve supply chain connectivity, ensure critical infrastructure for trade, and refrain from imposing unnecessary restrictions on the flow of food, medical and essential supplies.
The ASEAN Leaders supported the reallocating of the existing available funds and encourage technical and financial support from ASEAN’s partners to facilitate cooperation against COVID-19, including the proposed establishment of the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund in order to address the shortage of medical supplies, support the research and development of medicines and vaccines, and prepare for emergency responses in the future. In this respect, they tasked the ASEAN Coordinating Council to oversee ASEAN’s coordinated efforts in responding to COVID-19 and addressing its socio-economic challenges, regularly report to the ASEAN Leaders with appropriate recommendations for further guidance and instructions.
The Leaders stressed on the importance for ASEAN to engage closely with its external parties, including the ASEAN Dialogue Partners, the World Health Organization, and the broader international community in an effort to prevent, stop and control the infection. In this regard, the ASEAN Leaders emphasized the need to strengthen and utilize the existing regional and international mechanisms for cooperation and coordination in response to this public health crisis.
During the video conference, Samdech Techo HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, emphasized on a number of priorities including: (1) supporting one another in term of financial resources, technology, and medical supplies; (2) refraining from unilateral action that could disrupt cross borders trades and other economic activities; (3) supporting the “culture of sharing” in order to ease the pressure on the government spending; (4) avoiding racial discrimination, accusation and blame; (5) assisting ASEAN citizens who are stranded due to this crisis; and (6) considering on how to revitalize the economy once this pandemic is over.
The ASEAN Leaders adopted the Declaration of the Special ASEAN Summit on the Coronavirus Disease 2019.
The Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19
The ASEAN Plus Three Leaders agreed to convene the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19 via video conference on 14 April 2020 in order to discuss on regional efforts and measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. The Summit was also participated by H.E. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, who commended the ASEAN Plus Three Countries efforts to effectively prevent, detect, control, and respond to the spread of the disease while noting that East Asia was among the first to bear the negative impacts of the pandemic.
The ASEAN Leaders recognized the efforts of the Plus Three countries (China, Japan and the ROK) in preventing the spread of this disease, which has led to a drop in the number of new cases recently. Therefore, the ASEAN Leaders looked forward to engaging and exchanging experiences and best practices between ASEAN and the Plus Three countries in order to mitigate the negative impacts of this pandemic and to ensure the well-being of the peoples in East Asia and other parts of the world. In this respect, the Meeting acknowledged the importance of the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTEER) as a mechanism to strengthen food security in the ASEAN Plus Three countries.
The Meeting discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in various sectors through the existing regional mechanisms, especially supporting MSMEs, protecting the healthcare professionals and workers, as well as ensuring the safety of migrant workers in the region. The Meeting also underlined the importance of maintaining a healthy supply chain and trade between and among the ASEAN Plus Three countries in order to ensure the flow of essential goods and supplies across the borders. The Meeting expressed the importance of signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year despite the current health crisis as it would contribute to the post-COVID-19 regional economic recovery.
Samdech Techo Prime Minister HUN SEN expressed deep concern over the negative impacts brought about by this pandemic and emphasized the need to further strengthen the regional solidarity to combat this disease. In this regard, Samdech Techo Prime Minister HUN SEN expressed high appreciation to the Plus Three countries for lending support to Cambodia in the forms of financial aid and medical supplies as well as sending doctors to assist Cambodia on the ground.
Samdech Techo Prime Minister HUN SEN also underlined some key priorities for the ASEAN Plus Three to consider as practical measures in combating, controlling and mitigating the infection of COVID-19 pandemic, as follows: (1) Sharing best practices and experiences that have effectively prevented the spread of the disease; (2) safeguarding public health through strengthening production capability of medical supplies and protecting vulnerable groups; (3) minimising the economic downturn resulting from this pandemic; (4) strengthening regional integration in order to revitalize the economy; and (5) strengthening digital connectivity in areas such as e-government, e-business, and e-learning.
The ASEAN Plus Three Leaders adopted the Joint Statement of the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
Phnom Penh, 15 April 2020.