HANOI, 15 November. / TASS /. Vietnam has officially completed its year of chairmanship in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), transferring the powers of the head of the regional association to Brunei. The ceremony took place on Sunday on the closing day of the 37th ASEAN Summit and related events, which took place in Hanoi via teleconference since November 10.
As the Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at the final press conference, the 37th ASEAN summit provided a good opportunity to fully assess the results of cooperation achieved over the past year on the scale of the association between the member countries, as well as with partner states, in order to outline priority directions of activity of the regional block for the coming time.
During the 37th summit, more than 80 documents were adopted that regulate cooperation within ASEAN and beyond, the most important of which was the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement concluded by the countries of the association and its largest trading partners.
Nguyen Xuan Phuc noted that in all the years of its existence, ASEAN has never faced such serious problems as in 2020, due to the global pandemic of the coronavirus disease COVID-19.
The spread of coronavirus infection critically affected the agenda of the Vietnamese presidency and the traditional mechanisms of cooperation within the association. But even in such an environment, the ASEAN community was once again able to show its strength on the basis of unity and cohesion in order to overcome difficulties and take advantage of new opportunities, the head of the Vietnamese government noted.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created great difficulties for Vietnam as the ASEAN chairman, he said. However, the republic was able not only to effectively resist the spread of the coronavirus, but also to help other ASEAN countries overcome this global crisis.
Amid the unprecedented difficulties caused by COVID-19, the bloc countries have made every effort to quickly cope with the consequences of the pandemic. Collaborative mechanisms to tackle the pandemic were urgently put in place, including the ASEAN COVID-19 Fund, the ASEAN Regional Medicines and Healthcare Reserve, the ASEAN Center for Emerging Epidemics, and new standards for responding to health emergencies. told the prime minister.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused not only a global health crisis, but also a global socio-economic crisis that has not spared any country in the world. At the same time, ASEAN has become a shining example of rapid response to a changing situation, taking on political commitments at the highest level. In particular, measures were developed to support the business community of the association to restore production and business, as well as to create jobs for citizens.
This helps ASEAN economies improve their competitiveness and rebuild disrupted supply and service chains with a view to gradually recovering regional economies over the medium to long term.
The main instrument in the period of post-pandemic recovery is to be the RCEP agreement signed at this summit. The entry into force of this document will create the world's largest free trade zone with approximately 2.2 billion consumers and a GDP of $ 28 trillion, which is more than 32% of total world GDP.
Relations with partners
In the past year, according to Nguyen Xuan Phuc, ASEAN's relations with partner countries have significantly strengthened. Cooperation mechanisms such as ASEAN + 1, ASEAN + 3, the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum for Security (ARF) highlight the central role of ASEAN in the Asia-Pacific region (APR).
At the 37th ASEAN Summit, Colombia, Cuba and South Africa joined the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, which speaks of the significant contribution of the association to expanding cooperation, to ensuring peace and security in the region and around the world, the Vietnamese prime minister said.
He also said that against the background of a difficult international situation, there is fruitful cooperation between ASEAN and partners in countering challenges. The Association adheres to a consistent course for peace and stability in the region and the world, respects the norms of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The 37th ASEAN summit reaffirmed the regional bloc's determination to resume negotiations with China on the development and adoption of a Code of Conduct for the Parties in the South China Sea (SCS) region.
The ASEAN countries emphasize the importance of resolving all disputes in the SCS exclusively by peaceful means, call for strict adherence to the Declaration on the Rules of Conduct for the Parties in the SCS, advocate the observance of the principles of restraint, for refusal to militarize the SCS problem and any actions leading to an increase in tensions.
Summing up the results of the ended ASEAN week, the Vietnamese Prime Minister stressed that the 37th summit of the bloc was very successful and provided a good opportunity to strengthen unity within the regional organization to fulfill the tasks assigned to it.
The Association continues to strive for a twofold goal: to fight the epidemic along with solving its key task – building a united ASEAN community.