During the summit chaired by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Thailand and its ASEAN partners agreed to set up the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and draw upon related lessons and experience.
Thailand was of the view that all parties must work together to control the spread of the virus and flatten the curve, as well as craft a collective approach to mitigate socio-economic impacts in a comprehensive manner.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (centre) speaks at the summit. (Photo: VNA)
The Thai PM also proposed five significant approaches, saying ASEAN needs to mobilise the energy and efforts of all sectors to jointly address this challenge in a holistic manner.
He proposed ASEAN and the ASEAN Plus Three Countries jointly establish a COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund by reprioritising 10 percent of existing funds from the ASEAN Development Fund and cooperation funds with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK) and ASEAN Plus Three, or another agreed upon rate. The Fund shall be used to procure test kits, personal protective equipment and medical tools as well as support research and development in medicines and vaccines to help ASEAN become more self-reliant.
ASEAN should build understanding and empathy in the cooperation to facilitate transport of goods and logistics, customs clearance, and border trade. This will ensure that consumers will have access to a sufficient supply of medical tools and equipment, medicines and essential goods in a timely manner during this crisis, Prayut said.
According to the Thai PM, the role of technology should be promoted in providing innovative solutions to tackle challenges. ASEAN should also support the wider use of digital economy, innovative technology and e-commerce in the region, especially in helping MSMEs to take advantage of online platform. Digital Payment Connectivity and the use of Interoperable QR Code should be expedited to further facilitate regional trade and commerce.
ASEAN should draw upon the lessons and experience from the fight against COVID-19 to help build self-immunity to economic impacts from future public health emergencies or environmental challenges, he said.
The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy is an alternative approach to promote sustainable socio-economic development and enhance internal strengths with an emphasis on self-reliance, he said.
The role of the ASEAN Secretary-General, in his capacity as ASEAN’s coordinator for humanitarian assistance, should be strengthened to cover cooperation in the case of emergency situations such as epidemics, the Thai PM said./.