The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Thursday opened its 37th summit under the chairmanship of Vietnam via video conference, with focus on recovery from COVID-19 and the role of the bloc in the post-pandemic world.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee and Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong noted that in 2020 all ASEAN countries showed their courage and determination with efforts to overcome challenges and difficulties.
The cohesiveness and responsiveness of ASEAN have been shown strongly in COVID-19 prevention and control and the efforts to recover from the epidemic, he said.
Trong emphasized that in the new context, regional dialogue and cooperation frameworks with ASEAN playing a central role need to be well promoted.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc also delivered a speech at the ceremony, announcing that ASEAN will officially finalize the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and sign the deal at the upcoming RCEP summit, which would affirm strong determination on free trade and ASEAN's ties with partners.
He suggested that ASEAN should focus resources and efforts at the highest level on gradually reducing the risk of COVID-19, making vaccines and effective treatment methods available soon, and promoting measures to support businesses in resuming production and activities to ensure employment and livelihoods for local people.
Within the framework of the summit, the bloc will approve the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and its implementation plan, Phuc said, noting that the recovery of trade exchange in the region is underway and the bloc may consider resuming travel routes for ASEAN citizens.
Comprising over 20 high-level events, the 37th ASEAN summit and related summits are scheduled for Nov. 12-15.
Established in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Vietnam is the ASEAN chair for 2020.