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Opening Remarks by H.E. Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Viet Nam at the Opening Ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit

12-11-2020, 09:30:00

CMSC Below is the Opening Remarks by H.E. Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Viet Nam at the Opening Ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit.

Your Excellency Nguyen Phu Trong, Party General Secretary, President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam,

Your Majesty, Excellencies Leaders of ASEAN,

Your Excellency Madam Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, President of AIPA-41,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to warmly welcome the Leaders of ASEAN Member States and ASEAN partners to the Opening Ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related ASEAN Summits with its Dialogue Partners. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented us from meeting in person, we have still managed, through modern digital platforms, to sustain our dialogue and cooperation, thus narrowing the geographical distance among nations.

I wish to express my gratitude to His Excellency Nguyen Phu Trong, Party General Secretary and President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, for your presence and important remarks at the Ceremony today.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are going through incredibly difficult times in which the livelihood and lives of our people are under threat by the COVID-19 pandemic while the economic and social life is in disarray, and further aggravated by severe natural disasters, storms, floods and droughts. The fruits of social progress and economic development accumulated over decades may be swept away. Our countries, therefore, need years to redress and overcome such losses.

Anguished by the pain of our people and driven for recovery, the Governments of ASEAN Member States have stood as one in our action from very early on. Since mid-February, we issued the Chairman’s Statement on ASEAN Collective Response to the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019. In mid-April, shortly after the pandemic's outbreak, we organized the Special ASEAN and ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Summits on COVID-19, during which the Leaders of ASEAN Member States and its partners made strong commitments to act together in the spirit of cohesiveness and responsiveness. At the following 36th ASEAN Summit in June, ASEAN Member States took decisive actions at both the national and regional levels.

The ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund, announced at the 36th ASEAN Summit, has received a pledge of up to $10 million and stands ready to provide assistance to countries in combatting the pandemic as needed. At this 37th ASEAN Summit, we will establish the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies and adopt the ASEAN Strategic Framework for Public Health Emergencies. We, with the assistance from Japan, have agreed to establish the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases. These are substantive cooperation outcomes of great significance in enhancing our joint capacity in response to medical emergencies and future epidemic threats.

Undaunted by adversities and challenges, the ASEAN Community building process has not been hindered by the pandemic. We are elated to see that our cooperation across the three pillars has continued to be actively and timely proceeded through the outcomes of the Mid-Term Review of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 Blueprints. Let me take this opportunity to stress the need for enhancing institutional capacity and operational efficiency for the ASEAN apparatus so as to meet the requirements and demands arisen from the new situation. As such, the review of the implementation of the ASEAN Charter is very much needed, and today, ASEAN Leaders will provide guidance on this important task.

In implementing our twofold task of fighting the pandemic and promoting recovery, we will officially adopt the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and its Implementation Plan across the three pillars at this Summit. The plans for stabilizing production and supply chains, strengthening connectivity and restoring trade in the region are being promptly accelerated. We are creating a safe travel framework for businesses and investors amidst the pandemic. In the short term, we may consider the reopening of the ASEAN lane for our citizens at the airports.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Though three quarter a century has passed since the end of the Second World War, world peace and security have not been truly sustainable. This year, peace and security are even under greater threat as a result of compounding risks arising from the unpredictable conduct of states, rivalries and frictions among major powers, various challenges to the international multilateral system, and the increasingly acute emergence of non-traditional security issues and extremist tendencies.

Being fully aware of the opportunities and challenges facing our region, ASEAN, in the spirit of self-reliance, has been of sound mind and steadfast in pursuing a balanced and harmonious approach so as to maintain its centrality without being swayed or drawn into the regional and international maelstroms.

I welcome the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the 53rd Founding Anniversary of the Association, reaffirming our determination to maintain Southeast Asia as a region of peace, security, stability and neutrality. ASEAN has also expressed consistently its principled position and strong commitment to turning the South China Sea, a critical sea lane of the region and the world, into a sea of peace, stability, security and safety for the free flow of goods, where differences and disputes are settled through peaceful means, where the law is fully respected and observed, and common values are upheld. We underscore the importance of the 1982 UNCLOS as the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, at the same time, look forward to the early conclusion of the COC which is effective, substantive and consistent with international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS.

Over the last 75 years, under the exhortative role of the United Nations through its important Declarations and Resolutions, our world and region have achieved encouraging progress in promoting gender equality and women's empowerment. On this occasion, we shall hold, for the first time, the ASEAN Women Leaders’ Summit, where Women Leaders representing various countries and international institutions shall directly speak on the role of women in promoting sustainable development in a post-COVID-19 world.

As 2020 draws to a close, the 37th ASEAN Summit and related ASEAN Summits with its partners shall be instrumental in realizing ASEAN’s 2020 key deliverables and priorities, and mapping out our future cooperation directions.

First, ASEAN needs to focus its resources and efforts, at the highest level, on gradually curbing the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, quickly arriving at a vaccine and effective treatment for the disease, and enhancing preventive healthcare capacity so as to best respond to medical emergencies, and protect the health and lives of our people. At the same time, we need to step up ways and means to assist our businesses in restoring production, trade, work and livelihood for the public. The ASEAN Community Councils should make haste in implementing the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and its Implementation Plan right after the Summit today.

Playing its part in reshaping the post-COVID-19 world, ASEAN needs to position itself in the eco-political shift among nations and the re-adjustments in the global production and supply chains. The existing competitive advantage of ASEAN must be supplemented with the values of modern science and technology, digital transformation capabilities, high-quality workforce and the ability to diversify input and output markets.

Second, equitable and sustainable growth is extremely important for the ASEAN Community building, especially as epidemics and natural disasters keep threatening to stunt the growth across the entire region. ASEAN reaffirms its commitment and unity in narrowing the development gap among its areas and member states, as well as converging and harmonizing sub-regional development efforts with ASEAN’s overall development.

Third, peace and stability are a prerequisite for recovery and development. We may only enjoy stability when international relations are rules-based and there is mutual respect, understanding, dialogue, cooperation and trust among nations. ASEAN shall continue to play a central and leading role in deepening and expanding dialogue and cooperation processes in the region, and bringing together our partners to contribute to issues of common interest and concern, and effective response to challenges.

With that, we will adopt many important documents with our partners on this occasion, including (i) Ha Noi Declaration on the 15th Anniversary of the EAS, and (ii) ASEAN Plus Three Leaders’ Statement on Strengthening ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation for Economic and Financial Resilience in face of Emerging Challenges. We will also (iii) conclude negotiations and sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), reaffirming our strong commitment to trade liberalization and connectivity between ASEAN and its partners.

We will also maintain our effort to construct a regional rules-based multilateral cooperation architecture while formulating and sharing universally recognized codes of conduct. Cuba, Colombia and South Africa have officially acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) on the sidelines of this Summit.

Last but not least, the ASEAN Community’s identity and solidarity need to be upheld in this time of trial and tribulation. I welcome the adoption of the Narrative on ASEAN Identity as well as the recommendations of the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) on encouraging the enhanced display of the ASEAN flag in ASEAN Member States and the use of the ASEAN anthem in ASEAN official functions. To honor individuals and organizations that contribute remarkably to the development of ASEAN, the ASEAN Judging Committee decided to present the 2020 Awards to the ASEAN Studies Center under the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute for Southeast Asian Studies for its research works that have contributed to promoting regional cooperation and increasing the awareness of the ASEAN Community.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our schedule in the next few days are very tight. I place my trust in the far sight and wise deliberation of ASEAN Leaders, and in the active participation and contribution from our Partners and prominent international institutions, such as the UN, IMF, WB and WHO, in the success of our events.

In solidarity and resilience, ASEAN shall surely rise above its challenges, thus bringing abundance and prosperity to its 600 million citizens and contributing to peace, stability and development in the region and the world.

I hereby declare the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits convened.

Thank you for your kind attention./.

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