Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region.
He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions.
The prime minister’s request was made at the virtual 36th ASEAN Summit under the theme “Cohesiveness and Responsiveness”.
“ASEAN really needs to be strategically prepared for the post-Covid-19 world. To achieve this goal, ASEAN should establish a clear and prudent rehabilitation plan by introducing a number of scenarios for gradually launching cross-border transit and trade operations between countries and rehabilitate sectors that are most affected by the crisis,” he said.
Hun Sen said Covid-19’s unprecedented challenges include issues related to safety and public health, disruption to the functioning of the global supply chain as well as serious socio-economic impacts.
He said a united response and global solidarity on a multilateral basis, especially under the UN framework, is indispensable. He said ASEAN should be proud of its success in combating Covid-19 compared to other regions.
“ASEAN has a new opportunity to strengthen its regional supply chain. This is a necessary task ahead as I see the regional supply chain linkage will enable ASEAN to realise its potential as the 10 countries have different advantages,” he said.
The prime minister said the supply chain in the region will enable ASEAN member states to supply each other and transform ASEAN into a self-dependent region.
“This doesn’t mean ASEAN will separate from the global supply chain, but it will enhance the competitiveness of the community internationally,” he said.
Kin Phea, the director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, agreed that ASEAN had better control of the Covid-19 outbreak compared to other regions.
He said ASEAN should take concrete measures and allow cross-border travel in order for economies to resume. There must be clear measures and responses to Covid-19 and ASEAN, he said, needs to review its internal trade.
“So far, we have seen that ASEAN is very focused on the overseas market, but it has forgotten about the 600 million people in its region. By the time of the crisis, our dependence on exports was too high and it affected our economies.
“[One of] the most impacted sectors in ASEAN is tourism which needs attention as economies in Southeast Asia are dependent on it,” he said.