Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said trade barriers, including tariff and non-tariff restrictions, should be limited to restore the economies of ASEAN members amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Anh on Thursday chaired an online meeting between economic ministers in Southeast Asia and China, Japan and South Korea (ASEAN Plus Three), discussing ways to boost regional economic cooperation and supply chain connectivity amid the complicated and unpredictable Covid-19 pandemic.
At the meeting, participants discussed building platforms to facilitate existing trade to promote and support supply chain connectivity in the region and leveraging technology and digital commerce to support and allow businesses, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), to continue operations.
With the adoption of the Hanoi Action Plan, which is based on the joint statement of ASEAN Economic Ministers in March, the participants agreed to maintain commitments to ensure food security and enhance resilience and sustainability of the regional supply chain.
Anh said the ministers agreed on a number of important measures to ensure the flow and transport of essential goods, serving the daily needs of the people such as food items and medical products, as well as ensuring smooth supply chains between ASEAN and partner countries.
Participants at the meeting agreed that it was a very important time as the global and regional economy face requirements to restructure.
All countries agreed to focus on the path of intra-regional cooperation, creating a highly competitive area to attract investment, restructure the economy, and develop the market where barriers including tariffs and non-tariff were limited.
The meeting also discussed efforts to make full use of the Rice Reserve Fund and seek the possibility to develop a stockpile of essential medical supplies and equipment.
They also discussed ways to promote customs cooperation to facilitate the clearance of goods at border gates while protecting people from virus infection.
As ministers said the pandemic was still the main concern and could be back at year-end, they agreed to continue fighting and preventing the virus by coordinating closely to ensure effective socio-economic cooperation programmes.
Anh said: “All countries are taking into account measures to revive the economy, ensuring the interests of each country as well as partner countries.”
“All partnerships, whether within ASEAN or with ASEAN partners, are extremely important for economic development . . . only cooperation can bring about high efficiency and stable development of each country.”
VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK