ASEAN and its three partner countries have worked together for 21 years, and this cooperation — which was born out of the ASEAN financial crisis in 1999 — would strengthen the resilience of ASEAN Plus Three as they deal with the current global health crisis, the President said.
"Therefore, in the midst of the crisis involving the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impact, the ASEAN Plus Three Special Summit has become very important and strategic,” said Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who joined President Jokowi at the virtual summit from the Bogor Palace on Tuesday evening.
In addition to sharing his belief that the ASEAN Plus Three will overcome the crisis caused by COVID-19, President Jokowi also conveyed two important suggestions.
First, highlighting the importance of strengthening cooperation to build resilience in handling the current pandemic, Jokowi said Japan, China and South Korea, which first dealt with COVID-19, must share their experiences with ASEAN countries.
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The President also said that ASEAN Plus Three leaders have directed their health ministers to strengthen cooperation in the procurement of medical devices and medicines, as well as increase the capacity of medical personnel, through measures such as strengthening the epidemiology training network and increasing research collaborations to create drugs and vaccines, among others.
The President also proposed the formation of a special task force for ASEAN Plus Three countries to deal with the pandemic and expressed the hope such a task force would be able to provide recommendations quickly in case of any future pandemics.
“So, the President's proposal is not only to deal with the current pandemic, but also to deal with pandemics in the future. The President has also proposed the establishment of networks and cooperation between pharmaceutical industries of the ASEAN Plus Three countries (and), of course, SOEs (state-owned enterprises) that produce drugs, to overcome COVID- 19," Foreign Minister Retno said.
Second, President Jokowi has proposed strengthening cooperation in the context of increasing economic resilience. In this regard, Jokowi reiterated what the IMF Managing Director said: that the world is currently facing the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
However, Jokowi said, the ASEAN Plus Three have already built a strong cooperation infrastructure. The President asked that the existing infrastructure be further strengthened through the ASEAN Plus Three Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM), and the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve, for instance.
In addition, President Jokowi urged ASEAN Plus Three leaders to make a strong commitment to ensure trade, and make certain that member countries continue to lead so that the region can remain a driver of global economic growth in the future.
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