Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung suggested ASEAN soon finalise a travel corridor framework for the safe resumption of essential business travel.
The official was speaking while addressing the ASEAN Joint Consultative Meeting (JCM) on Thursday.
The event took place via videoconference chaired by Brunei, which holds the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2021.
Participants at the meeting recognised the progress in ASEAN Community building over the last six months despite the complex Covid-19 situation in the region.
They expressed their countries’ support for Brunei to promote the initiatives and priorities for the ASEAN Year 2021.
They agreed on the roadmap for building the ASEAN Community’s post-2025 vision and on the establishment of a high-level drafting group this year.
The meeting also concurred on building an ASEAN master plan on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and accelerating the Strategic and Holistic Initiative to Link ASEAN Responses to Emergencies and Disasters (ASEAN SHIELD).
Officials agreed to step up the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines via UNICEF and the Covax Facility to supply member countries, asking ASEAN to promptly used $10.5 million from its Covid-19 response fund to purchase vaccines.
Stressing the importance of sustainable recovery, the countries highlighted the need for the entire bloc’s engagement in implementing the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, and for supporting enterprises, vulnerable groups, and remote areas in the region.
At the meeting, they welcomed and approved Vietnam’s initiative to organise an ASEAN forum on sub-regional cooperation in the third quarter of this year to focus on narrowing the development gap among sub-regions for comprehensive recovery and sustainable development.
They also highly valued the outcomes of the regional conference on the implementation of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration for 2021-2025, held on May 19 and chaired by Vietnam.
In his remarks, the deputy minister said ASEAN should prioritise recovering and promoting connectivity by effectively implementing the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and soon finalising an ASEAN travel corridor arrangement framework to facilitate travel within the bloc.
Dung also pointed out the Covid-19 pandemic’s impacts on the region, including the widened development gap among sub-regions in ASEAN.
The official called on member countries to assist remote areas, including the Mekong sub-region, to recover from the pandemic and keep up with the common development pace in the grouping.
VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK