Speaking at the forum, Dung highlighted ASEAN’s proactive and timely efforts as well as its close coordination with partners in containing the COVID-19 pandemic and minimising the socio-economic impacts caused by the disease.
He affirmed that, together with the anti-pandemic efforts, Vietnam will cooperate closely with ASEAN member nations and partners, including Australia, to maintain ASEAN’s normal activities through the use of teleconferencing, continue accelerating cooperation orientations and priorities set for 2020, and accelerate the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.
Vietnam will also work to strengthen ASEAN’s mechanisms, develop the Mekong Sub-region, and expand partnerships for peace and sustainable development and towards the post-2025 ASEAN Vision, Dung added.
He proposed some orientations for ASEAN-Australia cooperation in combating COVID-19, ensuring mutual support for citizens affected by the pandemic in each country, alleviating the disease’s negative socio-economic impacts, and preparing post-epidemic recovery and development plans. Dung stressed the need to effectively utilise the existing development cooperation programmes under the ASEAN-Australia framework in these efforts.
In the present difficult time, countries should uphold solidarity, build trust in the rule of law, and ensure a peaceful, secure and stable environment for the facilitation of cooperation between nations, the Vietnamese official emphasised.
Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung speaks at the forum. (Photo: dangcongsan.vn)
The annual forum at the Deputy Foreign Ministerial level took place in a teleconference format for the first time after it was postponed due to the impact of COVID-19, instead of going ahead in Australia in March as initially scheduled. The event aimed to evaluate cooperation and discuss measures to boost the ASEAN-Australia partnership, including joint response to the pandemic, as well as discussing regional and international issues of mutual concern.
ASEAN countries and Australia shared their concerns about the complicated developments and the rapid spread of COVID-19 and updated each other on measures and experiences in coping with the disease. On that basis, the two sides agreed to promote the sharing of information and experience, the provision of technical assistance, and the building of healthcare capacity and the ability to cope with future outbreaks, while also committing to support each other’s citizens who are affected by the disease, exert efforts to minimise its socio-economic impacts, and coordinate policies to prepare post-epidemic recovery plans.
Australia affirmed that it attaches importance to ties with ASEAN, welcomes the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, supports ASEAN’s centrality in the regional structure, and backs ASEAN as a coordinating centre for efforts to cope with COVID-19 in the region. The Australian side also reiterated its commitment to supporting and creating favourable conditions for ASEAN citizens and students working and studying in Australia during the current difficult period.
ASEAN highly appreciated Australia’s willingness to help strengthen the capacity of preventive medicine to cope with disease, asking Australia to actively support and contribute to ASEAN’s COVID-19 Response Fund and its regional medical supplies reserve.
ASEAN and Australia attached great importance to and pledged to facilitate their strategic partnership, especially in the present difficult time, in order to promptly overcome the challenges and difficulties caused by the pandemic and further accelerate bilateral relations and cooperation. The two sides agreed to continue accelerating the implementation of the ASEAN-Australia Action Plan between 2020-2024, affirmed their support for an open, fair, rules-based international multilateral trading system, and advocated the prompt upgrade of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) and the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2020.
At the meeting, participants exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual concern, emphasising the need to maintain regional order based on laws; to ensure peace, stability, security and the rule of law in the region; and to refrain from acts of further complicating the situation, especially in the context that countries are focusing their efforts and resources on fighting the coronavirus disease.