Efforts are needed to narrow the widening gap in development among ASEAN members following the Covid-19 pandemic.
ASEAN is expected to allocate US$10.5 million from its Covid-19 Response Fund to purchase vaccines for member countries.
|Covid-19 vaccine administered in Tay Ho District. Photo: The Hanoi Times|
Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son put forth the initiative during the 29th ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC), which is held online today [August 2] under the framework of the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AMM-54).
Son also called for members to assess the implementation of the ASEAN charter, one of the key results achieved in 2020 when Vietnam took the role of ASEAN Chair.
"This would be key to ensure greater efficiency in the operation of ASEAN bodies in the coming time," he noted.
Stressing on the significance of sustainable and equal development within ASEAN, Son said the bloc should focus on supporting regions with lower development levels in Southeast Asia, including the Greater Mekong Subregion, for closing the widening gap in growth as a result of the pandemic.
On this occasion, Son announced that Vietnam would hold the ASEAN forum for cooperation in the Greater Mekong Subregion for comprehensive recovery and sustainable development in the upcoming fourth quarter.
At the meeting, the ACC, a focal point in cooperation within ASEAN, welcomed progresses towards the development of the ASEAN Community amid the complicated Covid-19 situation in the region.
Foreign ministers affirmed commitment to strengthening cooperation by approving initiatives in building a vision for the ASEAN Community post-2025, responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, and boosting economic recovery.
ASEAN also noted the necessity of enhancing its capabilities against natural disasters and taking advantage of Industry 4.0.
Son and other foreign ministers agreed on setting up a task force and the path towards the establishment of the ASEAN Community post-2025 and a roadmap for Timor Leste to join ASEAN activities.
The ACC approved the appointment of Ekkaphab Phanthavong as ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General for the Socio-Cultural Community for 2021-2024.
On August 2, Southeast Asia confirmed over additional 72,000 infections, with Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand reported the five-digit figures. As of August 2, the region reported 7.47 million infections, including more than 152,000 deaths, statistics by Johns Hopkins University showed.
The ASEAN Covid-19 Response Fund was established in June 2020 at the 36th ASEAN Summit under the Vietnam Chair, receiving donations from Japan, Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK, the US, among others.
The fund serves as a pool of financial resources to provide support to ASEAN member states in the detection, control, and prevention of Covid-19 transmission and in protecting the safety of medical professionals, healthcare workers, frontline workers, and the wider population from the member countries.
The fund is made equally accessible to all ASEAN Member States for the purpose of, among others, procuring necessary medical supplies and equipment.
In addition, it would be made available to support cooperation in research and development relevant to Covid-19, including research on virology, immunology, medical treatments, and preventive vaccines; technical support in containment and mitigation measures; and sharing of best practices as well as capability-building of health professionals and other frontline personnel.
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