ASEAN kicks off series of virtual summits
Bandar Seri Begawan, Oct 26 (IANS) The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Tuesday kicked off its 38th and 39th summits under the chairmanship of Brunei virtually, with the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and promoting economic recovery high on the agenda.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said the ASEAN member states will take this opportunity to consider the bloc's community building efforts in realizing the Community Vision 2025, reports Xinhua news agency.
He noted that ASEAN countries will also discuss other issues, including further strengthening the resilience towards regional recovery from the pandemic and enhancing cooperation with dialogue partners.
Lim Jock Hoi, secretary general of the ASEAN, said in his greeting speech that despite the pandemic challenges, the bloc's economic outlook remains resilient.
He said ASEAN's economic recovery from this pandemic will depend on a more even distribution of vaccination rollout across the region, which will ensure the continued fair and credible access to the vaccines for all people.
The summits, with the theme "We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper," is scheduled to discuss a number of issues, including further strengthening the resilience of the ASEAN Community towards regional recovery from the pandemic, enhancing the preparedness of the bloc in addressing common challenges; seizing new opportunities in pursuit of shared prosperity; and maintaining cooperation towards achieving the region's long-term goals.
Meanwhile, both ASEAN members and their dialogue partners hope the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a mega trade deal between 10 member states plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand which was signed last November, will take effect soon to promote regional trade and investment, thus helping with the post-pandemic economic recovery in the region.
Scheduled for Tuesday to Thursday, the 38th and 39th ASEAN summits and related summits will also be joined by leaders from dialogue partners, including China, Japan, South Korea, India, the US, Australia and Russia, among others.
Established in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Brunei is the ASEAN chair for 2021.