Addressing the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) remains the major challenge for Asian countries, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Saturday as he called for a concerted effort to overcome the scourge.
“We must act swiftly on the APT ASEAN Plus Three Plan of Action on mitigating the economic impact of COVID-19 and our statement on strengthening economic and financial resilience,” President Duterte said in his intervention during the virtual 23rd ASEAN Plus Three Summit.
At the forefront of APT’s agenda is bringing member countries and peoples back on track to full socio-economic recovery, he said.
President Duterte said there is a need to ramp up individual and collective capabilities against COVID-19 and other pandemics. And the establishment of the APT Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies strategically benefit member countries.
The contributions of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund and through the APT Fund help shore up financial capabilities of ASEAN member states.
To protect the people, safe and affordable vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments for COVID-19 must be made available in the new normal.
During the Special APT Summit, the President said member states made the urgent call to make vaccines available to all.
“We thank China for its expressed commitment to make safe vaccines a global public good once available. ASEAN should be among the first to benefit,” he said.
“We thank Japan for opening Fapiravir (Avigan) treatment trials to neighboring countries, including the Philippines.”
In trade and economic fronts, the Philippine leader said the free movement of critical medical equipment and supplies, staple food, and other essential products is the key to increased economic activities.
He extended ASEAN’s gratitude to Republic of Korea for its timely assistance of medical supplies as well as rice stocks that directly benefitted ASEAN communities.
ASEAN’s Plus Three partners can invest more in the development of the bloc’s e-commerce and financial technology inter-operability, according to the President.
To fully harness the digital platform’s potential contributions to economic growth and recovery, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) should be given full access and participation.
At the same time, President Duterte highlighted the importance of reinforced regional financial safety net to effectively respond to disruptions in the financial systems.
“We welcome the entry into force of the Amended Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization Agreement that will enhance coordination between the CMIM and the IMF,” he told summit participants.
“The Asian Bond Markets Initiative, on the other hand, is a step forward in developing local currency bond markets.”
An open and fair and rules-based multilateral trading system, he said, remains the key to achieving shared prosperity and this is the reason why the Philippines welcomes the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP).
The President sees RCEP as an important driver of growth and development. PND