Chairman’s Statement of the 37th ASEAN Summit: Cohesive and Responsive
The 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings took place virtually from November 12-15. ASEAN leaders agreed to issue the Chairman's Statement of the 37th ASEAN Summit at the end of the event. Following is the full text of the Statement.
1. We, the Heads of State/Government of ASEAN Member States, gathered for the 37th ASEAN Summit on 12 November 2020 under the Chairmanship of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
2. We welcomed ASEAN’s commendable efforts in achieving a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN, the theme of ASEAN for 2020. We were encouraged by progress made in the realization of ASEAN’s priorities in 2020, including through the implementation of the “ASEAN Leader’s Vision Statement on a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN: Rising above Challenges and Sustaining Growth”. We acknowledged ASEAN’s unity and solidarity were strengthened, ASEAN Centrality was consolidated, ASEAN’s active contribution to regional peace and stability was duly recognized. We also acknowledged the steady progress in ASEAN’s economic integration and regional connectivity with the enhanced capacity of ASEAN to adapt to the changing regional and global dynamics. We commended active efforts to promote ASEAN awareness, identity and visibility. We were gratified by the achievements of ASEAN in contributing to the global cause for peace, stability and sustainable development. We welcomed and encouraged ASEAN’s continued efforts in enhancing its institutional capacity and effectiveness to better respond to changing circumstances.
3. We reaffirmed our commitment to maintaining Southeast Asia as a region of peace, security, neutrality and stability and strengthening peace-oriented values in the region in line with international law. We further reiterated the importance of maintaining an ASEAN-centered regional architecture that is open, transparent, rules-based and inclusive. We supported the enhanced synergy among various ASEAN-led mechanisms, including the ASEAN Plus One, ASEAN Plus Three (APT), East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus). We committed to continue our engagement in the wider Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, as guided by the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).
4. We acknowledged the fast-changing strategic complexities coupled with the emergence of non-traditional security issues, and the unprecedented challenges posed by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic to lives and livelihoods and creating widespread demand and supply-side shocks. We reaffirmed our strong commitment to strengthen collective efforts in enhancing ASEAN’s resilience to navigate and effectively respond to emerging challenges, addressing the threats of COVID-19, miminizing its disruption and promoting sustainable recovery, thereby, protecting the life and well-being of our peoples, sustaining ASEAN’s inclusive growth as well as the need for a holistic and strategic approach to better shield our people against future spill-over impacts.
ASEAN COMMUNITY BUILDING
5. We reaffirmed our efforts to sustain the momentum of ASEAN Community-building to ensure the full and effective implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.
6. We were satisfied with the progress made and endorsed the Reports of Mid-Term Reviews (MTRs) of the three ASEAN Community Blueprints 2025 and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025. We commended the efforts by ASEAN Member States and sectoral bodies across the three ASEAN Community pillars in ensuring the effective realization of the ASEAN Community Blueprints 2025 despite challenges facing ASEAN. Lessons and experience drawn from the MTRs shall be of importance for ASEAN to move forward with the remaining goals for the successful completion of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.
7. Looking forward, we agreed on the importance of charting a new path for ASEAN beyond 2025 that enables ASEAN to be responsive and better adapt to a fast and dramatically changing world.
8. We reiterated the importance of promoting cross-pillar, cross-sectoral cooperation and coordination in ASEAN Community building and the importance of a holistic approach, coordinated and coherent response in addressing the increasingly multi-dimensional challenges of issues facing ASEAN.
9. We reaffirmed our shared commitment to maintaining and promoting peace, security, and stability in the region, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
10. We reaffirmed our belief that regionalism and multilateralism are important principles and frameworks of cooperation, and that their strength and value lie in their inclusivity, rules-based nature, and emphasis on mutual benefit and respect.
ASEAN 2020 KEY DELIVERABLES
ASEAN’s collective efforts to respond to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and promoting regional comprehensive recovery
11. We reviewed and assessed the current epidemiological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continued to be of grave concern in the region and the world at large. We looked into the progress achieved and challenges encountered thus far on overall coordination at national and regional levels in the fight against COVID-19.
12. We recognized the importance of joint efforts to strengthening the capacity of ASEAN and existing regional mechanisms on public health and emergency response to optimize their operations and enhance regional preparedness and health security, through regional and international coordination and cooperation with external partners and international organizations to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and other public health emergencies.
13. We acknowledged the ongoing whole-of-government and whole-of-society efforts of ASEAN Member States and further encouraged the collective efforts of ASEAN and its cooperation with Dialogue Partners and other external partners in responding to COVID-19, in moving forward practical and substantive initiatives led by the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) with the assistance of the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies (ACCWG-PHE).
14. In this regard, we welcomed the commitments and pledges by ASEAN Member States, Dialogue Partners and other external partners in contributing to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund. We are also encouraged by the swift action undertaken by ASEAN Member States in ensuring that the processes concerning contributions to the Fund are timely, transparent and efficient. We encouraged efforts to raise awareness of the Fund and promote its effective operationalization to support ASEAN’s needs in responding to the pandemic.
15. We launched the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies (RRMS) for Public Health Emergencies, which would focus on strengthening the region’s capacity, resilience and enhanced preparedness to respond to current and future public health emergencies. We encouraged contributions from ASEAN Member States, external partners and interested donor to the RRMS. We welcomed the ASEAN Strategic Framework for Public Health Emergencies which is envisioned to provide ASEAN’s standard operating procedures in response to public health emergencies, strengthen the capacity of ASEAN’s public health networks and complement the existing ASEAN agreements on health matters, and relevant international agreements, including the International Health Regulations and the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases and Public Health Emergencies.
16. To coordinate COVID-19 recovery efforts, we adopted the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) and its Implementation Plan, which serves as a consolidated strategy for ASEAN to emerge more resilient and stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, giving due consideration to the hardest hit sectors and vulnerable groups. Accompanied by an Implementation Plan, which will be reviewed and updated periodically, the Framework focuses on five broad strategies, namely (i) enhancing the health system; (ii) strengthening human security; (iii) maximising the potential of intra-ASEAN market and broader economic integration; (iv) accelerating inclusive digital transformation; and (v) advancing towards a more sustainable and resilient future. We underscored that the successful implementation of the Framework will require the support and contribution from all stakeholders, both internal and external. We also welcomed the conclusion of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Implementation of the Non-Tariff Measures on Essential Goods under the Hanoi Plan of Action on Strengthening ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Supply Chain Connectivity in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, as an early outcome of the ACRF.
17. We announced the establishment of the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED) which would serve as a center of excellence and regional resource hub to strengthen ASEAN’s regional capabilities to prepare for, prevent, detect and respond to public health emergencies and emerging diseases. The work of the ACPHEED should also complement national health sector, national centers for diseases control (CDCs) and other regional platforms relevant to ensuring public health and safety. We welcomed and appreciated the generous support from Japan for the ACPHEED’s establishment.
18. We also commended the work of ASEAN sectoral bodies in spearheading various initiatives with a view to contributing to the regional efforts in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. We welcomed the ongoing efforts to implement the Statement of ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry in Response to The Outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) to Ensure Food Security, Food Safety and Nutrition in ASEAN; the ASEAN Integrated Food Security (AIFS) Framework and Strategic Plan of Action on Food Security (SPA-FS) 2021-2025 to enhance our coordinated response on food security. We noted the encouraging efforts on the implementation of the Ha Noi Plan of Action on Strengthening ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Supply Chain Connectivity. We welcomed the Joint Statement of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) to Minimize the Negative Effects of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which resolves to counter the spread of fake news and misinformation relating to COVID-19 and the Joint Statement of the ASEAN Tourism Ministers on Strengthening Cooperation to Revitalize ASEAN Tourism.
19. We adopted the Declaration on an ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework which aims to facilitate essential business travels among ASEAN Member States, while prioritising public health safety through developing a common set of health and safety measures to protect the well-being and safety of our citizens in accordance with prevailing public health regulations required by the authorities of each ASEAN Member State. In this regard, we encouraged the work of the ASEAN Coordinating Council supported by ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies to coordinate and oversee the operationalization of the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement, taking into account the need to develop common measures and existing bilateral arrangements of ASEAN Member States.
20. We appreciated the various joint efforts of the ASEAN Health Sector, in collaboration with Dialogue, Sectoral Dialogue and Development Partners, international organizations and other external partners which have been further sustained and enhanced by synergizing COVID-19 initiatives to harmonize, align and complement whole-of-government prevention, detection and response activities; capacity building interventions on public health emergency preparedness and response; sharing critical lessons learned and good practices; resource mobilization including technical assistance; and, policy dialogues and technical exchanges on COVID-19 developments on diagnostic, therapeutic and management efforts, including vaccine, drug security and self-reliance towards fair, equitable and affordable access to vaccines for ASEAN people and the building of vaccination capacity in ASEAN.
21. We underscored ASEAN’s commitment to work closely with our partners to keep markets open and ensure the continued flows of trade and investment, supply chain connectivity, particularly for essential products, and for a strong and resilient post-COVID-19 economy. To this end, we welcomed the adoption of the ASEAN Plus Three Plan of Action on Mitigating the Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, ASEAN-China Economic Ministers’ Joint Statement on Combating COVID-19 and Enhancing Cooperation under ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), the ASEAN-Japan Economic Resilience Action Plan, Joint Initiatives on Bolstering the Economic Connectivity between ASEAN-Republic of Korea in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak, and the Joint Statement of ASEAN and China Transport Ministers on Ensuring Smooth Transport and Logistics to Combat COVID-19 and Reactivate the Economy.
Mid-Term Review (MTR) of ASEAN Community Blueprints and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025
22. We commended the three ASEAN Community pillars and the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC) for undertaking the MTR of their respective Community Blueprints and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 with the targeted milestones being achieved. These reviews are important as they would not only provide an evaluation of where we are in our Community-building efforts but would also generate ideas on how best to move forward in the remaining years of implementation towards 2025, particularly in the face of new developments and emerging challenges. The results of the MTR would also serve as a good foundation for subsequent development of an ASEAN post-2025 vision.
23. We welcomed the submission of the final Report of the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) Blueprint 2025 MTR. We were encouraged that the majority of the activities undertaken in the implementation of the APSC Blueprint 2025, thus far, had medium to high impact on ASEAN Community-building, and 80% of the activities were expected to be sustained in the future. We noted with satisfaction the encouraging progress made with 96% of the action lines in the APSC Blueprint 2025 having been acted upon. We acknowledged the Report’s candid assessment of challenges encountered in the implementation of the APSC Blueprint 2025 as well as recommendations on the way forward, including in ensuring the Blueprint’s relevance and responsiveness to the changing regional and international landscape.
24. We welcomed the submission of the Preliminary Report of the MTR of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025 through the AEC Council. We underscored that while significant progress has been made in implementing the strategic measures in the AEC Blueprint 2025, efforts must be redoubled to push forward the implementation of remaining commitments in the Blueprint as well as ensure the quality of actions or initiatives implementing those commitments. We noted with appreciation the report’s candid assessment of the implementation as well as contextual challenges encountered, the outcomes and impact of implementation to date, and the preliminary recommendations, both operational and strategic. We recognized the growing importance and urgency of addressing cross-sectoral and cross-pillar issues as well as the significant additional challenges brought about by COVID-19 in the implementation of the second half of the AEC Blueprint 2025. We look forward to the Final Report of the MTR of the AEC Blueprint 2025, capturing assessment of implementation until 2020, and noted that a public version of the Final Report will be made available. We thanked the ASEAN Regional Integration Support by the European Union (ARISE) Plus Programme for the support provided to the conduct of the MTR of the AEC Blueprint 2025.
25. We noted the Report of the MTR of the implementation of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint 2025, which informs us on the progress and challenges, and recommends ways forward in building an ASCC pillar that will be more engaging and beneficial to the ASEAN peoples. Involving reviews at both national and regional levels, the MTR provides a holistic assessment of the implementation of the ASCC Blueprint 2025. In addition to good progress observed thus far in the implementation of the sectoral activities, the Report highlights the need to develop more concrete efforts to improve the effectiveness of the implementation of sectoral activities as well as ASEAN Leaders’ commitment and Declarations in addressing the five characteristics of the Blueprint, especially to adapt to the current situation and in preparation for a post COVID-19 world. We also welcomed the ASCC’s efforts in conducting the Baseline Study of the ASCC Blueprint 2025 which served as an important reference for the MTR.
26. We welcomed the completion and findings of the MTR of the MPAC 2025 which reaffirmed the progress ASEAN has made towards achieving a seamlessly and comprehensively integrated ASEAN by 2025 and complement ASEAN Community-building efforts. We urged all key stakeholders to carry out the recommendations provided by the MTR to enhance the effective implementation of MPAC 2025, while contributing to the region’s comprehensive recovery.
ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision
27. We agreed on the importance of developing the Post-2025 vision for the ASEAN Community in anticipation of the completion of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 to better position ASEAN in the changing global and regional landscapes. To that end, we have issued the Ha Noi Declaration on the ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision. We agreed that the outcomes of the MTRs of the three ASEAN Community Blueprints 2025, the MPAC 2025, the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan IV (2021-2025), the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, among other relevant documents, could provide insights on further discussions and development on ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision. We tasked the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) to oversee the overall process of developing the Vision, first and foremost, to develop a roadmap and core elements of the Vision for subsequent consideration by ASEAN Leaders and look into the establishment of a High-Level Task Force (HLTF) to plan and develop a post-2025 vision and attendant documents. We also directed the ASEAN Community pillars to contribute to the development of ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 vision, recognizing the importance of promoting coherence, inclusiveness and participatory approach and allowing for greater engagement and consultations with relevant stakeholders of ASEAN.
Review of the Implementation of the ASEAN Charter
28. We commended the work of the ASEAN Secretariat, in consultation with ASEAN Member States in producing a Scoping report of the review of the implementation of the ASEAN Charter, which focuses on the implementation of the Chapters concerning the operations of ASEAN organs and application of the Rules and Procedures that govern ASEAN’s daily activities. We agreed on the parameters for the actual review on the implementation of the ASEAN Charter, as set out in the Scoping Report in particular Articles covering ASEAN Sectoral Ministerial Bodies, Secretary-General of ASEAN and ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN Foundation, Entities associated with ASEAN, and those concerning the application of the Rules of Procedures on Conclusion of International Agreements of ASEAN (ROPCIA) and the Protocol on Dispute Settlement Mechanism, as well as the Guidelines for ASEAN’s External Relations. We tasked the ACC to oversee the conduct of the Review based on recommendations by ASEAN Member States in the Scoping Report with the support from ASEAN Secretariat and relevant ASEAN organs and sectoral bodies of the three ASEAN Community pillars.
Promoting ASEAN Identity
29. We underscored the importance of promoting and fostering ASEAN awareness and ASEAN Identity. We therefore encouraged the enhanced display of the ASEAN Flag in public buildings of ASEAN Member States, in accordance with ASEAN Member States’ domestic laws and regulations and the use of ASEAN Anthem at ASEAN official functions. We noted the amendment of the Guidelines of the Use of the ASEAN Anthem, with a view to further encouraging the use of the Anthem in ASEAN official functions.
30. We adopted the Narrative of ASEAN Identity which articulates a set of inherited and constructed values that would contribute to deepening a sense of regional belonging as part of our ASEAN Community building efforts. We encouraged greater cross-sectoral and cross-pillar coordination to mainstream ASEAN Identity in the work of ASEAN.
31. We acknowledged the complementary role and contribution of sub-regional cooperation in realizing ASEAN’s Community building goals, toward an inclusive people-oriented, people-centered ASEAN Community that leaves no one behind, as well as to serve as catalysts for economic growth, deepening regional economic integration and connectivity. We recognized the relevance of sub-regional development to ASEAN’s regional integration and community-building process, narrowing the development gap and enhancing ASEAN’s competitiveness as a region, and ensuring ASEAN’s sustainable and inclusive development in accordance with ASEAN Centrality and unity. We recognized the importance of ensuring that sub-regional development strategies are aligned with the overall development strategies of ASEAN, through promoting synergies between existing sub-regional cooperation efforts and ASEAN Community building efforts. To that end, we endorsed the recommendations by the ACC in the ACC Report to the 37th ASEAN Summit. We tasked the ACC to oversee and report to ASEAN Summits the process of strengthening ASEAN’s role in sub-regional cooperation. We encouraged enhanced synergies between ASEAN cooperation and sub-regional frameworks, including the Ayeyarwady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Viet Nam (CLMV) cooperation, the Cambodia-Laos-Viet Nam Development Triangle Area and other Mekong cooperation frameworks as well as Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) in order to achieve our goal of narrowing the development gap among and within ASEAN Member States to promote equitable and sustainable development across the ASEAN Community by aligning sub-regional growth with the comprehensive development of ASEAN.
32. We commended the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) for publishing the "Sub-regional development strategy in ASEAN after COVID-19: inclusiveness and sustainability in the Mekong subregion (MEKONG 2030) report” which provides insights with regard to ASEAN's sub regional development and its role in ASEAN Community building.
Gender Equality and Women empowerment
33. We reaffirmed ASEAN’s strong commitment to promoting the rights for all women and girls and their empowerment, encouraging their active contribution to global and regional peace, security, stability and sustainable development. We welcomed the realization of key initiatives of ASEAN in this regard, including the successful convening and fruitful outcomes of the Special Session at the 36th ASEAN Summit on Women’s empowerment in the digital age; the ASEAN Ministerial Dialogue on Strengthening Women’s role for sustainable peace and security and the first ASEAN Women Leader’s Summit held during the 37th ASEAN Summit on women’s role in building a cohesive, dynamic, sustainable and inclusive ASEAN Community in a post COVID-19 world. We recognised the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls and acknowledged women’s increasingly indispensable role and contributions to the socio-economic development and maintenance of peace and security, particularly in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. We highlighted women’s significant role in building a more cohesive, dynamic, sustainable and inclusive ASEAN Community in the post pandemic period and agreed to place women's leadership and contributions at the heart of the recovery efforts, particularly in the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and its Implementation Plan. These efforts by ASEAN are of significance as the world commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Action Platform and the 20th anniversary of the United Nation Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). We agreed to further advance the WPS agenda in ASEAN Community building process and directed ASEAN
sectoral bodies across the three ASEAN Community Pillars to integrate gender perspectives in their works.
34. We commended the commitment of the private sector, including through ASEAN BAC, to enhance close and effective collaboration with the public sector for the consideration and implementation of urgent public health measures to address the pandemic and further fast tracking of inclusive and sustainable economic reforms as presented in their report entitled “Pathway Towards Recovery and Hope for ASEAN”. We encouraged the private sector to sustain this level of cooperation with ASEAN in order to undertake concrete measures to save lives and livelihoods across ASEAN and ensuring a faster and stronger economic recovery.
INITIATIVE FOR ASEAN INTEGRATION
35. We noted with satisfaction the progress in the implementation of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan III (2016-2020), which will expire on 31 December 2020. We reaffirmed our commitment to narrow the development gaps within ASEAN and to enhance ASEAN’s competitiveness as a region and accelerate ASEAN integration. In this regard, we are pleased to adopt the IAI Work Plan IV (2021-2025), which retains the five strategic areas of food and agriculture, trade facilitation, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), education as well as health and well-being, with refreshed actions and taking into consideration emerging issues such as the Industrial 4.0, gender and social inclusion, environmental sustainability and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We resolved to realise Work Plan IV in an effective manner, through partnership with ASEAN’s partners and other external parties, including international organisations, the private sector and efficient allocation of resources. Recognising that Work Plan IV is closely aligned with the ASEAN Community Blueprints, we tasked relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies to support the implementation of the Work Plan in the areas under their respective purview.
36. We underlined the importance of enhanced regional connectivity, especially in supporting the region’s recovery from the pandemic. We commended the work of ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC), Lead Implementing Bodies, relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies as well as MPAC 2025 National Coordinators and National Focal Points in advancing the ASEAN Connectivity agenda. We welcomed the finalisation of the Second Progress Review Report and MTR of MPAC 2025 and emphasised that the outcomes and recommendations of the MTR of MPAC 2025 would provide crucial insights for the future direction of ASEAN Connectivity.
37. We noted with satisfaction the efforts to advance sustainable infrastructure in ASEAN through the Initial Rolling Priority Pipeline of ASEAN Infrastructure Projects and ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy (ASUS), and welcomed the finalization of the Framework for Improving ASEAN Infrastructure Productivity. We were encouraged by the initiative to develop the ASEAN Database on Trade Routes and Framework for Enhancing Supply Chain Efficiency to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the region, stimulate post-pandemic economic recovery and strengthen resilience. We underscored the importance of human capital development for a cohesive and responsive ASEAN and encouraged further efforts to promote people-to-people connectivity under MPAC 2025. We expressed our appreciation to our Dialogue Partners and other external partners for their continued support to MPAC 2025 and reaffirmed our commitment to forge more collaboration and cooperation, including through enhancing synergies between relevant connectivity initiatives within and beyond ASEAN in line with ASEAN’s Connecting the Connectivities Approach.
38. We welcomed the successful convening of the ACCC Consultations with Dialogue Partners and Other External Partners on Connectivity and 11th ASEAN Connectivity Symposium on Enhancing ASEAN Cohesiveness, Responsiveness through Resilient Connectivity and Human Capital Development on 26 August 2020 and 28 August 2020, respectively.
ASEAN SMART CITIES NETWORK
39We commended the progress efforts of the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) in strengthening its institutional mechanisms to monitor progress of Smart City Action Plans (SCAPs), facilitate partnerships, and prepare the network for future membership expansion. We welcomed the endorsement of the ASCN Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and the Guidelines for ASCN Engagement with External Partners at the Third ASCN Annual Meeting on 17 July 2020 and subsequent approval by the Joint Consultative Meeting (JCM). We were pleased to note the respective ASCN Members’ efforts in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and encouraged the ASCN to exchange ideas and share experiences in supporting COVID-19 recovery efforts. We noted with appreciation the continued support of ASEAN Dialogue Partners and other external partners in forging partnerships with ASCN Cities and enhancing their capacity in smart city development.
40. We recognized the role of the ASEAN Prize in promoting public awareness among the ASEAN citizen on the core values and principles of ASEAN as stipulated in the ASEAN Charter, which have significantly contributed to the ASEAN Community building process. We announced the ASEAN Studies Center of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore was selected as the recipient of ASEAN Prize 2020 in recognition of its work in promoting greater understanding and awareness of ASEAN and contributing towards regional cooperation and integration across the ASEAN Community pillars.
41. We acknowledged the ongoing efforts of the ASEAN Foundation in supporting regional youth development amid COVID-19 by transitioning its ongoing programmes into virtual engagement. We appreciated the support from the Government of the Republic of Korea to strengthen ASEAN Identity through the “KONNECT ASEAN” project. We encouraged ASEAN Foundation to continue its partnership with the private sector to equip ASEAN youth with future leadership skills, through programmes like the ASEAN Digital Innovation, ASEAN Data Science Explorers, and empowering Youths Across ASEAN. We recognised the positive responses to the ASEAN Foundation Model ASEAN Meeting (AFMAM) which deepens youth involvement and activism by developing their regional awareness and knowledge. We looked forward to the operationalisation of the ASEAN CARES programme, which is expected to alleviate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities.
ASEAN POLITICAL- SECURITY COMMUNITY
42. We welcomed the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Importance of Maintaining Peace and Stability in South East Asia on the occasion of the 53rd Founding Anniversary of ASEAN, which reaffirmed ASEAN’s strong commitment to maintaining Southeast Asia as a region of peace, security, neutrality and stability, and strengthening peace-oriented values in the region in line with international law. We reiterated the importance of the continued building of strategic trust and mutual confidence among countries, the exercise of self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability, refraining from the threat or use of force and resolving differences and disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law.
43. We reaffirmed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) as the key code of conduct in governing inter-state relations in the region and as a foundation for maintaining regional peace and stability. We reiterated our commitment to further promote the principles embodied in the TAC within the region and beyond and emphasised the importance of all High Contracting Parties’ fulfillment of their obligations under the Treaty. We welcomed the increasing number of interested parties to accede to the TAC, on the basis of respect for and in conformity with the purposes and principles of the TAC. In this regard, we welcomed the accession of Colombia, Cuba and South Africa to the TAC and looked forward to the accession of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in the future.
44. We also reaffirmed our commitment to preserve the Southeast Asian region as a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone and free of all other weapons of mass destruction as enshrined in the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone (SEANWFZ Treaty) and the ASEAN Charter. We stressed the importance of the full and effective implementation of the SEANWFZ Treaty, including through implementing the Plan of Action to Strengthen the Implementation of the SEANWFZ Treaty (2018-2022). We reaffirmed our commitment to continuously engage the Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) and intensify the ongoing efforts of all Parties to resolve all outstanding issues in accordance with the objectives and principles of the SEANWFZ Treaty. We would continue to submit the biennial SEANWFZ Resolution through the First Committee to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
45. We remained steadfast in our commitment to combat terrorism, radicalisation, violent extremism and transnational crimes, particularly amidst the challenges and new threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, including by strengthening cross-sectoral and cross-pillar cooperation to this aim. We commended the continued efforts by various ASEAN Sectoral Bodies in implementing the Bohol Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Work Plan 2017 – 2020 and looked forward to the final review and discussion on the ways forward for the Work Plan. We encouraged enhanced cooperation among ASEAN Member States to tackle and combat trafficking and smuggling of persons, under the appropriate platforms such as the Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crimes (SOMTC) and the Bali Process. We stressed the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Work Plan of the ASEAN Plan of Action to Prevent and Counter the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism (Bali Work Plan) 2019-2025 to address radicalisation and violent extremism in the region in a holistic manner. We also looked forward to the finalisation and endorsement of Thailand’s draft Concept Paper on “ASEAN Border Management Cooperation Roadmap” by the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) which was aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of border management in the region.
46. We welcomed the Chairman’s Statement of the 5th ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity (AMCC) on 7 October 2020 that highlighted the importance of continuing to develop and implement coordinated regional cybersecurity capacity building programmes aimed at equipping ASEAN Member States with the policy, operational and technical capacities to implement the norms on advancing responsible state behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security as recommended in the 2015 Report of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (UNGGE), and the proposal for the relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies to identify areas of cooperation and capacity building to strengthen cyber resilience of Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) which extended across borders and served as the backbone for regional communication and trade. We also welcomed the inaugural meeting of the ASEAN Cybersecurity Coordinating Committee that took place virtually on 5 November 2020.
47. We reaffirmed our commitment towards a drug-free region and a zero-tolerance approach towards illicit drugs. We also remained steadfast in realising this commitment amidst global attempts to reschedule certain types of illicit drugs. We commended the ASEAN Narcotics Cooperation Centre (ASEAN NARCO) for its effort to publish the next issue of the ASEAN Drug Monitoring Report 2019, a key trademark of ASEAN’s cooperation in combating illicit drugs.
48. We commended the defense sector’s commitment to address security issues of common concern while continuously contributing to our collective effort in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. We noted that the defense sector was finalizing the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Three-Year Work Programme 2020-2022 and the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Groups Work Plans 2021-2023, to guide its practical cooperation as the ADMM and ADMM-Plus enter into a new cycle.
49. We commended the ASEAN Law Ministers Meeting (ALAWMM) and the ASEAN Senior Law Officials Meeting (ASLOM) on their work in the area of law and legal matters to support the ASEAN Community building agenda and looked forward to the progress on the development of an ASEAN Extradition Treaty.
50. We recalled the United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/74/19 emphasising, in the Preamble, the universal and unified character of the 1982 UNCLOS, and reaffirming that the Convention sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out and is of strategic importance as the basis for national, regional and global action and cooperation in the marine sector, and that its integrity needs to be maintained. We welcomed positive developments in maritime cooperation among ASEAN Member States, including through continued constructive dialogues on issues of common interest and concern under the ambit of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ADMM and ADMM-Plus, AMMTC, East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Maritime Forum (AMF) and the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF). We encouraged ASEAN Member States to intensify cooperation in promoting maritime security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight, addressing transnational crime at sea, creating conducive environment for peaceful settlement of disputes, ensuring marine sustainability, providing humanitarian assistance to persons and vessels in distress at sea, combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, promoting maritime connectivity and commerce, strengthening marine scientific research, in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, the relevant Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and the relevant instruments and conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
51. We welcomed the adoption of the Five-Year Work Plan 2021-2025 and the Priority Programmes/Activities 2021 of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) at the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM). We encouraged AICHR to put in place a monitoring and evaluation framework to track progress for an effective and impactful implementation of its comprehensive work plans. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we commended AICHR’s continued efforts to engage with regional and international actors and stakeholders in sharing best practices and initiatives to promote and protect human rights in public health response and comprehensive recovery.
52. We commended the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation’s (ASEAN-IPR) consistent efforts in strengthening peace-oriented values towards harmony, peace, security and stability in the region and beyond through its various initiatives. We appreciated the convening of the ASEAN-IPR webinar series for inter-sectional discourse on pertinent topics on peace and reconciliation in the context of COVID-19. We encouraged the ASEAN Women for Peace Registry (AWPR) to raise public awareness and advocate an approach with gender perspective to peace and security, economic integration and empowerment, as well as to support the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda in ASEAN. We reiterated our support for the ASEAN-IPR to continue its good work in helping ASEAN to build a peaceful, stable and prosperous ASEAN Community.
53. We reiterated the importance of mine action in national rehabilitation and sustainable development and welcomed efforts to promote mine action at the global level, including at the United Nations. We commended the role of the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (ARMAC) as a center of excellence in promoting ASEAN’s efforts to address the humanitarian aspects of landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the region. We encouraged ASEAN’s Partners to continue contributing to the undertaking of projects and operationalisation of the ARMAC, including through the “Friends of ARMAC” initiative.
ASEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY
54. We expressed concern over the significant challenges faced by the region’s economy in the face of COVID-19. Within the region, we noted that ASEAN’s economic growth slowed down to 4.6% in 2019 from 5.2% the previous year, amounting to a combined GDP of USD3.2 trillion. We noted ASEAN’s total merchandise trade reached USD2.8 trillion in 2019, of which 22.5 per cent was intra-ASEAN; and ASEAN’s total services trade reached USD844.6 billion in 2019, of which 14.8 per cent was intra-ASEAN. On investment, we noted that inflows of foreign direct investments (FDI) to ASEAN reached USD160.6 billion in 2019, of which 13.9 per cent was intra-ASEAN. We noted with concern, however, that an unprecedented recession is projected in 2020 due to the pandemic, with pressures expected on trade and investment as shown by preliminary data. Despite these challenges, we are confident that our macroeconomic fundamentals remain strong, and we are committed to work together to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19, keep markets open, and continue building our region’s collective resilience and competitiveness towards a swift recovery by 2021.
55. We welcomed the good progress made in the achievement of the 13 Priority Economic Deliverables for Viet Nam’s ASEAN Chairmanship under the three strategic thrusts of (i) Promoting Intra-ASEAN Economic integration and connectivity; (ii) Deepening ASEAN’s Engagement with the Global community for Peace and Sustainable Development and (iii) Enhancing the Responsiveness and Institutional capacity of ASEAN. In particular, we welcomed (i) The adoption of the ASEAN Digital Integration Index (ADII); (ii) The launch of the ASEAN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Indicators Baseline Report 2020 and Online Database Portal for ASEAN SDG Indicators; (iii) The endorsement of the Implementing Policy Guidelines (IPG) of the ASEAN Payment Policy Framework for Cross-Border Real Time Retail Payments and The draft Guidelines for Updating the Annex on Use Cases of the IPG; (iv) The Endorsement of the Report on Promoting Sustainable Finance in ASEAN; (v) The completion of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and look forward to the signing of RCEP Agreement at the 4th RCEP Summit in 15 November 2020; (TH) (vi) the completion of the Preliminary Report of the MTR for the AEC Blueprint 2025; (vii) the endorsement of the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the ASEAN Network of Innovation Centres; and (viii) the adoption of the new ASEAN Integrated Food Security Framework and Strategic Action Plan on ASEAN Food Security in the ASEAN region (2021-2025). We noted that the ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting are framing the region’s energy transitions to a lower carbon path through the forthcoming release of the 6th ASEAN Energy Outlook and adoption of the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation Phase 2 (2021-2025), which focuses on accelerating energy transition and strengthening energy resilience through greater innovation and cooperation. In addition, it will include new regional targets for reducing energy intensity and for increasing renewables share in power generation by 2025 and assess potential business models for privately financed national transmission infrastructure to complement efforts to expand regional power integration and electricity trade. We also noted the progress in the development of a Roadmap and Action Plan to promote smart manufacturing development in ASEAN, the Best practice Guidelines for 5G Ecosystem Development in ASEAN, the on-going discussions to work towards lowering international mobile roaming (IMR) in ASEAN, and the Roadmap on Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in the ASEAN Region for the period 2020-2025.
We were pleased to note the progress made in the implementation of the Guidelines for the Implementation of ASEAN Commitments on Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) on Goods (NTM Guidelines) and other initiatives to support trade facilitation. We noted, in particular, the endorsement of the proposal to develop a framework to review the cost and effectiveness of the existing NTMs in ASEAN through an NTM Tool Kit, which is targeted for pilot implementation in ASEAN Member States by July 2021. We welcomed the implementation of the ASEAN-wide Self-Certification (AWSC) since 20 September 2020, which would further reduce trade transaction costs and simplify certification procedures. We also welcomed the official launch of the ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS) on 2 November 2020 to facilitate the cross-border transit movement of goods. Under the ACTS, businesses can look forward to time savings and cost reductions, and better connectivity in moving goods via land across six Participating Member States (PMS), namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. We looked forward to the live operation of the ASEAN Customs Declaration Document (ACDD) through the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) among ready ASEAN Member States. We urged our Customs officials to intensify efforts in further enhancing trade facilitation in the region with more pragmatic approaches, including pathfinder programs for the ASEAN Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Mutual Recognition Arrangement (AAMRA) and the ASEAN Low Value Shipment Program (ALVSP), among others. We are pleased with the on-going signing of the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on Type Approval for Automotive Products, and the finalisation of a number of trade facilitative measures to address technical barriers including the revision of the 1998 ASEAN Framework Agreement on MRA and MRA on Building and Construction Materials; for which ASEAN Member States are in the process of securing full powers to sign these MRAs, and the finalisation of the ASEAN Food Safety Regulatory Framework Agreement.
We welcomed the completion of the signing of the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA) and the Fourth Protocol to Amend the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA), which lays the foundation for ASEAN’s next phase of work in the integration of trade in services and investment, through transitioning into the negative list approach under the ATISA and additional reservations on prohibition of performance requirement under the ACIA, and looked forward to the timely entry into force of these Agreements. We urged concerned ASEAN Member States to expedite the completion of their 10th Package of Commitments under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) to facilitate the transition into the ATISA. We also welcomed the entry into force of the 2nd and 3rd Protocols to Amend the ACIA on 18 June 2020. We underscored the importance of keeping the ASEAN region as an attractive investment destination, especially when the region recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore underscored the importance of enhancing facilitation of investment into ASEAN in the post-COVID-19 new normal.
We noted that the endorsement of the Implementation Policy Guidelines for the ASEAN Payments Policy Framework for Cross-Border Real-Time Retail Payments will help advance the promotion of regional payment connectivity. We further noted that the endorsed Report on Promoting Sustainable Finance in ASEAN will encourage collaboration to further promote the sustainable finance agenda. We also welcomed the endorsement of the Guideline on ASEAN Local Currency Settlement Framework that has resulted in the conclusion of a number of bilateral local currency settlement arrangements between interested ASEAN Member States. More importantly, we commended the expansion of the Local Currency Settlement Framework between Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand which will be effective by the end of 2020. We agreed that information sharing on the use of local currencies in intra-ASEAN commercial activities should be continuously conducted to encourage bilateral local currency settlement, thus, eventually contributing to increasing the volume of intra-ASEAN trade and investment in the future. We noted the progress made in the establishment of the ASEAN Cybersecurity Resilience and Information Sharing Platform (CRISP) as a platform for sharing of threat intelligence and best practices related to cybersecurity as well as efforts to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to operationalise information sharing amongst the Digital and Network (DTN) members. We recognised the potential contribution of these initiatives in transforming the region into a digital economy.
We noted the ongoing work in supporting the development of micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs), through the sharing of goods policy and practice reference guidelines amidst the pandemic. In this connection, we noted with appreciation the completion and sharing of the following reference documents: Enterprise Policy Responses to COVID-19 in ASEAN – Measures to Boost MSME Resilience,Guidelines for the Promotion of Inclusive Business in ASEAN, and the ASEAN Guidelines on Fostering a Vibrant Ecosystem for Start-ups across Southeast Asia, which were developed in collaboration with various development partners from the Inclusive Business Action Network (iBAN), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP). We commended the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) and Joint Business Councils (JBC) for the comprehensive recommendations for the region to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic as highlighted in their report entitled “Pathway Towards Recovery and Hope for ASEAN”. We recognised the contribution of these recommendations in the development of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and its Implementation Plan. We encouraged the private sector’s continued support through the implementation of the Framework and its Implementation Plan and urged the relevant ASEAN bodies to work closely with the private sector in this regard.
We underscored the increasingly pivotal role of digital technology in achieving an inclusive, resilient and sustainable economic growth in the region, especially during and in the post pandemic era, and look forward to the adoption of the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 that will strategically guide ASEAN towards that vision. We also noted progress in the development of the Consolidated Strategy on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) for ASEAN, which is expected to be finalised next year, and thanked the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Programme Phase II (AADCP II) for their support. We welcomed the inaugural ASEAN Online Sales Day held on 8 August 2020, with the participation of more than 200 businesses from all ASEAN Member States. The event was a practical initiative to support e-commerce businesses amidst COVID-19.
We commended the strong commitment of the ASEAN Tourism Ministers to effectively address unprecedented challenges during the pandemic and to revitalize the ASEAN tourism industry through innovative solutions to enhance travel safety, hygiene standards and high-quality service in tourism products. We adopted the ASEAN Declaration on Digital Tourism which aims to encourage the application of digital technology and innovation in tourism development in order to enhance competitiveness, facilitate dynamic growth, and develop sustainable tourism, as well as to provide opportunities and develop capabilities in the tourism sector of ASEAN. We looked forward to more robust measures to be included in the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2016-2025 for the period 2021-2025, taking into account the new dynamics in the regional tourism industry.
We welcomed the progress in the negotiations of the ASEAN-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA) and ASEAN-New Zealand Air Services Agreement (ANZ-ASA), and encouraged greater efforts by ASEAN Member States to conclude negotiations to further enhance air connectivity with EU and New Zealand with the aim of promoting social and economic benefits for our people. We looked forward to the issuance of the Brunei Declaration on Road Safety 2020 by ASEAN Transport Ministers which reaffirms ASEAN’s strong commitment to improve and strengthen road safety as well as to contribute to a new global target to reduce road fatalities by at least 50 per cent by 2030.
We noted with satisfaction the progress in the five-year implementation of the ASEAN Plan of Action on Energy Cooperation (APAEC) Phase I 2016-2020, which has significantly advanced regional connectivity and accessibility through enhanced power trade, expansion of regional gas infrastructure, achievement of regional energy efficiency targets in 2020, and increasingly focused efforts to achieve the region’s 23% renewable energy target by 2025. We looked forward to the adoption by the ASEAN Energy Ministers of the next ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation Phase II 2021-2025 which frames the region’s work towards energy transitions and resilience and aims to respond to both the impact of the pandemic and the long-term requirements of sustainable development. We emphasised the importance of developing the region’s resource base in a sustainable manner and looked forward to the completion of the ASEAN Minerals Cooperation Action Plan Phase 2 for 2021-2025 to boost investments and regional minerals value chains and help supply the material requirements to sustain recovery and employment, including the emerging requirements of the global energy transition and digital age technologies.
We acknowledged the significant contribution of ASEAN’s Dialogue and Development Partners in ASEAN’s market integration efforts through the technical assistance and capacity-building programs they have established and implemented in ASEAN. We expressed our appreciation to the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) for its support to ASEAN economic integration through studies that aim to contribute to upgrading the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) – which is being undertaken also in collaboration with ARISE PLUS, addressing the non-tariff measures in the region, facilitating trade through the follow-up study on the ASEAN Seamless Trade Facilitation Indicators-Trade Transaction Cost (ASTFI-TTC), enhancing the utilisation of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs), addressing issues in facilitating mobility of ASEAN professionals that includes a study on the impact of the 4IR in ASEAN professional services, and promoting good regulatory practice in the region.
FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS
We noted the progress made in efforts to integrate the ASEAN region into the global economy, which include the implementation of the ASEAN’s Free Trade Area (FTA) and Comprehensive Economic Partnership (CEP) agreements with major trading partners i.e. China, India, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand, and Hong Kong, China as well as engagement with potential new FTA partners. Recognising the important contribution of these FTAs to ASEAN’s comprehensive recovery efforts and in creating stronger and more resilient supply chains, we reiterated our call on officials to redouble efforts in ensuring that these FTAs incorporate mechanisms for the smooth flow of supply chains and continue to deliver new opportunities for businesses in the region. We announced the completion of the substantial negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and welcomed the signing of RCEP which demonstrated our strong commitment to supporting economic recovery, inclusive development as well as our support for an open, inclusive, rules-based trade and investment arrangement. We acknowledge that the RCEP Agreement is critical for our region’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will play an important role in building the region’s resilience through inclusive and sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery process.
ASEAN SOCIO-CULTURAL COMMUNITY
We commended the initiatives undertaken to understand the complex impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable groups. We were inspired by the participation of ASEAN sectoral bodies, ASEAN’s partners and other stakeholders during the web forums on disability-inclusion, child protection and gender and ageing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We likewise commended the progress made in implementing the Complementarities Initiative despite the pandemic. We reaffirmed our commitment to protect and preserve the development gains achieved through the synergy between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. We also agreed to further advance sustainable cooperation in the region through existing ASEAN frameworks and centers including the ASEAN Centre on Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue. We also welcomed the outcome of the 13th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour held on 10 and 12 November 2020 in Hanoi, Vietnam which provided a platform for governments, trade unions, employers’ organisations and civil society to discuss and recommend actions to support migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community.
We acknowledged the ongoing implementation of health-related declarations and health priorities of the ASEAN Post-2015 Health Development Agenda which were equally important and complementary to COVID-19 responses that include, among others, focus on vaccine security and self-reliance; One-Health Approach in anti-microbial resistance; combating substandard and falsified medicines; disaster health management; ending all forms of malnutrition; and addressing non-communicable diseases and its risk factors including mental health and psychosocial support; and mitigation of biological threats.
We noted the adoption of the Roadmap of the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work by the ASEAN Education and Labour Ministers, which would implement the above-named declaration in collaboration with multi-sectoral stakeholders from the AEC and ASCC pillars. We applauded the formal launch of the ASEAN Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council and welcomed the assumption by the Philippines of the Council’s inaugural chairpersonship. We commended the successful convening of the Conference on the Digital Transformation of Education Systems throughout ASEAN, which reaffirmed the resolve of ASEAN Education Ministers to work towards lifelong learning and the digital transformation of the region’s education systems to ensure that education in ASEAN is equitable, inclusive, and fit for the future.
We noted the adoption of the ASEAN Roadmap on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour by 2025 by ASEAN Labour Ministers to facilitate closer cooperation among relevant ASEAN bodies to collectively support ASEAN Member States over the next five years in working towards the elimination of the worst forms of child labour in the region by building upon previous achievement and lessons learnt. We applauded the ASEAN Labour Ministers for the adoption of the ASEAN Guidelines on Effective Return and Reintegration of Migrant Workers as a follow up to the ASEAN Consensus on Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers. Complementing this, the Report of Comparative Study on Laws and Policies in the Management of Migrant Workers in ASEAN provided useful insights on regulatory frameworks for entry, stay and exit of migrant workers across the region.
We commended the ASEAN Labour Ministers for adopting the ASEAN Guideline on Gender Mainstreaming into Labour and Employment Policies towards Decent Work for All. We looked forward to its pilot implementation in 2021 that could pave the way towards greater gender equality in the world of work. We also noted the adoption of the ASEAN Guideline on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Risk Management for Small and Medium Enterprises in ASEAN Member States which provides practical steps to support enterprises in improving OSH standards in the workplace. We look forward to the adoption of the ASEAN Guidelines on Public Service Delivery by the ASEAN Heads of Civil Service. The principles and inspiring practices contained in it would support governments in improving efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery to citizens. We looked forward to the finalisation of the 2021-2025 Work Plan of ASEAN Cooperation on Civil Service Matters (ACCSM) to support future-ready and agile public service. We adopted the Ha Noi Declaration on Strengthening Social Work Towards Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community to demonstrate ASEAN’s commitment behind efforts at comprehensively promoting social work as a catalyst in achieving a people-centered, people-oriented and inclusive ASEAN Community. We looked forward to the development of a regional roadmap that would operationalise the commitments in the declaration. We noted the finalisation of the ASEAN Regional Study on Women, Peace and Security and its significant contribution in mainstreaming the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in the ASEAN context. We encouraged the relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies to work together on moving forward with the policy recommendations.
We committed to strengthen cooperation, including with relevant stakeholders, to enhance resilience to disasters through effective mitigation, preparedness, disaster risk reduction, response and recovery efforts as we acknowledge the fact that ASEAN is highly vulnerable to natural disasters and that the current global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic poses additional challenges for ASEAN in mitigating and responding to disasters. We underscored that it is crucial for ASEAN to step up preparation and be in a better position to handle the potential risk of disasters through cross-sectoral collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagement to help ASEAN Member States “build back better”. This included advancement in policy, innovation, science and technology, business continuity planning, early warning systems, and search and rescue. We underlined the importance of financial instruments and policies to reduce disaster risks including the ongoing discussion to establish a suitable platform for members of the public to contribute towards ASEAN’s disaster response efforts, which could include the ASEAN Disaster Management and Emergency Relief (ADMER) Fund.
We called for increased concerted effort towards vigilance and preparedness of authorities, communities and private sectors in strengthening regional coordination, capacity and resource mobilization to preserve the health and wellbeing of people in the ASEAN region. We reaffirmed our commitment in preventing and mitigating the impact and risks of slow-onset natural disasters such as drought and commended the adoption of the ASEAN Declaration on the Strengthening of Adaptation to Drought and looked forward to the formulation of its Regional Plan of Action.
We noted that transboundary haze pollution, arising from land and forest fires remains a major concern in the region. We reiterated our commitment to the full and effective implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP) and the Roadmap on ASEAN Cooperation towards Transboundary Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation (the Roadmap) to achieve a Haze-Free ASEAN by 2020. We were pleased to note the progress of implementation of the Roadmap on ASEAN Cooperation towards Transboundary Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation (Roadmap) 2016-2020, ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (APMS) 2006-2020, and the ASEAN Programme on Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems (APSMPE) 2014-2020. We expressed our appreciation for the valuable support extended by the Partners in the ongoing implementation of (i) Sustainable Use of Peatland and Haze Mitigation in ASEAN (SUPA) supported by the EU; (ii) Measurable Action for Haze-Free Sustainable Land Management in Southeast Asia (MAHFSA) supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); and (iii) GEF-6 Project on Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems in Mekong Countries supported by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). We stressed the importance of remaining vigilant and noted the ongoing preventive efforts to minimise any possible occurrence of transboundary smoke haze during periods of drier weather. We looked forward to the final reviews of the APMS and the Roadmap to evaluate the achievement of a haze-free ASEAN.
We expressed concern on the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth development and the importance of ensuring that the youth of ASEAN are adequately supported to embrace the ‘new normal’ and are not left behind. In this regard, we noted with appreciation the joint efforts of the ASEAN Secretariat, the ASEAN Foundation, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in organising the Interactive Webinar Series on ASEAN Youth and COVID-19. We welcomed the development of the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2021-2025, which seeks to respond to the needs of ASEAN youth in the context of the opportunities and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the post- COVID-19 era. We also looked forward to the results of the survey on ASEAN Awareness, Values and Identity carried out among university students for the second phase of the ASEAN Youth Development Index. We noted with appreciation the ongoing development of the ASEAN Work Plan on Sports 2021-2025 and efforts made by the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Sports (SOMS) to engage key sports stakeholders in the process. We welcomed the ongoing development of the areas of collaboration and key priorities in the ASEAN-FIFA Collaboration Plan led by the SOMS and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). We looked forward to more strategic cooperation among ASEAN Member States to strengthen the role of sports in ASEAN Community building. We recognised the negative impact of COVID-19 on the culture and arts sector and acknowledged that the sector’s attrition can have adverse effects on cities and countries in terms of innovation, well-being of citizens, as well as the vitality and diversity of communities. We encouraged strengthening cooperation through greater digitalisation of cultural offerings and cross sectoral innovation to revitalise the cultural and creative industries. We noted the adoption of the “Joint Statement of ASEAN Youth Ministers on Enhancing Youth cooperation for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community” to enhance the ASEAN Youth cooperation and to foster a future-ready ASEAN Youth generation, which are among the purposes of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 with the three ASEAN Blueprints and the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure the realization of a people-oriented and people-centered ASEAN where all ASEAN youths are able to reach the fullest of their potentials.
We reaffirmed our support for a more visible and enhanced role of ASEAN to support Myanmar in providing humanitarian assistance, facilitating the repatriation process, and promoting sustainable development in Rakhine State. We appreciated the efforts of the Secretary-General of ASEAN in leading the implementation of the recommendations of the Preliminary Needs Assessment (PNA) and encouraged the Secretary General of ASEAN to continue identifying possible areas for ASEAN to effectively facilitate the repatriation process. We welcomed the activities of the Ad-Hoc Support Team of the ASEAN Secretariat to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations of the PNA. We also welcomed the endorsement of the finalised projects at the 3rd High-Level Coordination Meeting and looked forward to the finalisation of the remaining projects. We appreciated the contribution from ASEAN Member States and some external partners in supporting ASEAN activities, including the prioritised projects in Rakhine State to facilitate the repatriation process and to promote inclusive and sustainable development. We reaffirmed the importance of the voluntary return of displaced persons in a safe, secure, and dignified manner. We stood ready to support and facilitate the full implementation of the Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State between the Government of Myanmar and the Government of Bangladesh signed in 2017 and the renewed MOU between the Government of Myanmar, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) until June 2021, as well as further substantive dialogues between Myanmar and Bangladesh to facilitate the repatriation process. We encouraged Myanmar to continue to implement the remaining recommendations of the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. We noted that the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) submitted its Final Report to the Government of Myanmar in January 2020 and reiterated the need to find a comprehensive and durable solution to address the root causes of the conflict and to create a conducive environment so that the affected communities can rebuild their lives. We welcomed the Myanmar’s efforts in the implementation of the National Strategy on Closure of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps. We also reaffirmed ASEAN’s continued support for Myanmar’s efforts to bring peace, stability, uphold the rule of law, promote harmony and reconciliation among the various communities, as well as ensure sustainable and equitable development in Rakhine State.
ASEAN EXTERNAL RELATIONS
We noted with satisfaction the encouraging progress in ASEAN’s relations with our Dialogue Partners, Sectoral Dialogue Partners, and Development Partners and other partners and agreed to further enhance and strengthen our partnerships and cooperation through the existing frameworks and plans of action based on mutual interest and benefit. We welcomed the adoption of the successor Plans of Action for the next five years (2021-2025) with several of our Dialogue Partners to guide the implementation of the goals and objectives of our partnerships, continue the achievements made under the previous Plans of Action, and further deepen relations in all pillars of cooperation to further advance our partnerships and cooperation. We underscored the importance of strengthening ASEAN Centrality and unity in our engagement with ASEAN’s external partners through ASEAN-led mechanisms in order to build mutual trust and confidence as well as reinforce an open, transparent, inclusive, and rules-based regional architecture with ASEAN at the centre. We looked forward to the 23rd ASEAN-China Summit, the 17th ASEAN-India Summit, the 23rd ASEAN-Japan Summit, the 21st ASEAN-Republic of Korea Summit, the 8th ASEAN-United States Summit, and the 11th ASEAN-United Nations (UN) Summit on 12-15 November 2020. We also looked forward to the Second ASEAN-Australia Biennial Summit and the convening of the ASEAN-New Zealand Leaders’ Summit to Commemorate the 45th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations on 14 November 2020. We agreed to convene annual ASEAN-Australia Summits from 2021 onwards. We acknowledged with appreciation the contribution of these partnerships to our ASEAN Community-building and development cooperation efforts, including through increased technical assistance and official contribution to regional cooperation programmes and projects. We welcomed the support of our partners for the priorities of ASEAN in 2020 in advancing a “Cohesive and Responsive” ASEAN. We also welcomed the support of our partners in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and called upon our partners to support and contribute to the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework. We agreed to furtherstrengthen partnership and cooperation with our external partners, as part of our continued efforts towards the realization of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and our proactive response to emerging challenges.
We took note of the growing interest from countries and regional organizations outside of the region in developing stronger collaboration and cooperation with ASEAN, including through applications for formal partnerships with ASEAN. We welcomed France and Italy as new Development Partners of ASEAN. We acknowledged the expression of interest by the United Kingdom to become a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN. We agreed on the need to reach out to new potential partners based on shared interest, constructive engagement, and mutual benefit, and noted the discussions of ASEAN Ministers and ASEAN Senior Officials on a comprehensive approach for ASEAN in the conduct of its external relations. We welcomed the Special SOM on ASEAN’s External Relations which discussed a comprehensive approach for ASEAN in the conduct of its external relations. We noted the role and contribution of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN (CPR) in actively engaging with ASEAN’s partners, including through 94 Non-ASEAN Ambassadors Accredited to ASEAN (NAAAs). We also welcomed the role of the 54 ASEAN Committees in Third Countries and International Organizations (ACTCs) in promoting ASEAN’s interest and forging partnerships in the respective host countries and international organizations.
We also highlighted the importance of and reaffirmed commitment to further strengthening ASEAN’s partnerships with other external partners as well as regional and international organizations, including the UN to address global concerns, to pursue shared goals and complementary initiatives, and to promote sustainable development for the benefit of our people. In this connection, we welcomed the presence of two ASEAN Member States, Indonesia and Viet Nam, as the non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). We also welcomed the first-ever briefing by the Secretary-General of ASEAN at the UNSC on “Cooperation between the UN and Regional and Sub-regional Organisations in Maintaining Peace and Security: The Role of ASEAN” on 30 January 2020 at the UN Headquarters in New York, which helped promote ASEAN’s prestige and image at this global platform and contributed to the strengthening of ASEAN-UN relations. As part of the continuing efforts to further increase interaction and strengthen cooperation with the UN, we encouraged ASEAN Member States to present their candidate or candidature to various posts in UN’s bodies and agencies.
ASEAN Plus Three
We reaffirmed the importance of the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) cooperation in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the East Asian region. We underscored the need to further strengthen and deepen functional cooperation under the APT framework, which plays a key role in regional community building in East Asia, with ASEAN as the driving force. We agreed to further enhance APT cooperation in wide-ranging areas through the implementation of the APT Cooperation Work Plan 2018-2022. We also looked forward to the continued implementation of the East Asia Vision Group II recommendations. In this connection, we welcomed Indonesia’s initiative to hold the APT Student Camp and APT Seminar on East Asian Studies at Major Universities which aims to cultivate of an East Asian identity through promotion of ASEAN Studies and East Asian Studies in the region until the situation allows. We reiterated the importance of enhancing connectivity in East Asia in accordance with the APT Leaders’ Statement on Connecting the Connectivities Initiative. We further welcomed the strengthening of APT cooperation in response to emerging challenges, with the successful convening of the Special APT Summit on COVID-19 on 14 April 2020 and the adoption of a Joint Statement that demonstrated the strong political commitment of the APT countries to effectively control and contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and address its adverse socio-economic impact. We are committed to promoting APT cooperation in strengthening regional economic and financial resilience in the face of emerging challenges and looked forward to the adoption of the APT Leaders’ Statement on Strengthening APT Cooperation for Economic and Financial Resilience in the Face of Emerging Challenges at the 23rd APT Summit to this aim. We acknowledged the important contribution of the East Asia Forum (EAF) as a Track 1.5 level platform for government, business, academia and think tanks to further deepen East Asia cooperation. In this regard, we welcomed the convening of the 18th EAF under the theme “Strengthening the ASEAN Plus Three cooperation for economic and financial resilience in the face of emerging challenges”, to be hosted via videoconference by Viet Nam in December 2020.
East Asia Summit
We reaffirmed our commitment to further strengthening the East Asia Summit (EAS) as a premier Leaders-led forum for dialogue on broad strategic, political, and economic issues of common interest and concern with the aim of promoting peace, stability, and economic prosperity in the region. We welcomed the 15th Anniversary of the EAS in 2020 and looked forward to the adoption of the Ha Noi Declaration on the 15th Anniversary of the East Asia Summit to further strengthen the EAS process, sustain its strategic value and relevance as well as enhance its responsiveness to fast-changing developments in the regional and global context. We also looked forward to the adoption of the EAS Leaders’ Statements on: Marine Sustainability; Strengthening Collective Capacity in Epidemics Prevention and Response; Women, Peace and Security; and Cooperation to Promote Steady Growth of Regional Economy. We agreed to further enhance practical cooperation under the Manila Plan of Action to Advance the Phnom Penh Declaration on the EAS Development Initiative (2018-2022). We also highlighted the need to strengthen EAS collaboration in response to emerging issues and challenges that affect peace, stability and prosperity in the region based on the principle of strengthening ASEAN Centrality. We were pleased with the fruitful outcome of the EAS Experts’ Meeting on COVID-19 via videoconference on 14 October 2020 led by Viet Nam as the EAS Chair and Indonesia as the current AHMM/SOMHD Chair to strengthen EAS coordination and collaboration on the containment and control of the COVID-19, mitigating its socio-economic impacts, and promoting recovery in the region as a concrete EAS activity conducted in addressing the impact of COVID-19. We encouraged the enhanced coordinating role of the EAS Chair in strengthening cooperation between the EAS and other ASEAN-led mechanisms as well as in ensuring effective coordination and exchange of information among the EAS participating countries inter-sessionally. We welcomed the continued discussions and efforts to strengthen the EAS, including through, among others, the regular engagement of the Ambassadors of EAS participating countries in Jakarta to discuss the implementation of the Leaders’ decisions and initiatives, as well as to exchange information on regional development cooperation initiatives and security policies and initiatives.
ASEAN Regional Forum
We were pleased to note that ASEAN continued to play a central role in maintaining peace and security in the region. In this connection, we acknowledged the role of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) as a key platform for inclusive dialogue and cooperation to discuss political and security issues of common interest and concern, and to further build mutual trust and confidence in the region. We were pleased to note that the ARF continued to further enhance its effectiveness and maintain its relevance in the evolving regional security architecture. In this regard, we welcomed the outcomes of the 27th ARF and the adoption of the ARF Ha Noi Plan of Action II (2020-2025) and looked forward to its full and effective implementation to further enhance confidence building efforts and cooperation in the ARF. We noted the adoption of the ARF Statement on Enhancing Cooperation to Prevent and Respond to Infectious Disease Outbreaks, ARF Statement on the Treatment of Children Recruited by or Associated with Terrorist Groups, and ARF Statement on Cooperation in the Field of Security of and in the Use of ICTs in the Context of International Security. We also noted with satisfaction that the Guide to ARF Processes, Procedures, Practices and Protocol was approved by the 53rd AMM and encouraged all ARF Participants to support its implementation to further improve the effectiveness of the ARF process.
ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific
We reaffirmed the importance of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific as a guide for ASEAN’s engagement in the wider Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. We also agreed to continue promoting the objectives and principles contained in the Outlook, and encouraged external partners to support and undertake cooperation with ASEAN, in accordance with these principles, on the four key areas of maritime cooperation, connectivity, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and economic and other possible areas of cooperation, including through practical projects to promote win-win cooperation as well as mutual trust, mutual respect, and mutual benefit through ASEAN-led mechanisms.
Timor-Leste’s Application for ASEAN Membership
We were encouraged to note that despite the pandemic, progress continued to be made in the process of ASEAN’s consideration on Timor-Leste’s application for ASEAN Membership through the finalization of the Assessment Report of the APSC Fact-Finding Missions (FFM) to Timor-Leste as well as the convening of virtual consultations between the ASCC Pillar with Timor-Leste. We looked forward to the conduct of the FFMs to Timor-Leste by the AEC and ASCC Pillars when circumstances allow, after which a comprehensive assessment on Timor-Leste’s application for ASEAN membership would be undertaken. We also noted the progress made with regard to the deliberations on the provision of capacity building assistance to Timor-Leste, as well as their participation in non-policy making meetings/activities of ASEAN.
REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ISSUES
South China Sea
We reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, security, safety, and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea and recognised the benefits of having the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability, and prosperity, especially during this time in the common fight against COVID-19. We underscored the importance of the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety. We warmly welcomed the continuously improving cooperation between ASEAN and China, and were encouraged by the progress of the substantive negotiations towards the early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) consistent with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS within a mutually-agreed timeline. We noted efforts undertaken to continue the second reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text (SDNT) despite evolving pandemic situation. We emphasised the need to maintain and promote an environment conducive to the COC negotiations, and thus welcomed practical measures that could reduce tensions and the risk of accidents, misunderstandings and miscalculation. We stressed the importance of undertaking confidence building and preventive measures as well as practical and mutually beneficial cooperation to enhance, among others, trust and confidence amongst parties; and we reaffirmed the importance of upholding international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.
We discussed the situation in the South China Sea, during which concerns were raised by some Leaders on the developments, including land reclamations, activities and serious incidents in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions, and may undermine peace, security, and stability in the region. We reaffirmed the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation. We further reaffirmed the need to pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS. We reaffirmed that the 1982 UNCLOS is the basis for determining maritime entitlements, sovereign rights, jurisdiction and legitimate interests over maritime zones, and the 1982 UNCLOS sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out. We emphasized the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states, including those mentioned in the DOC that could further complicate the situation and escalate tensions in the South China Sea.
Developments in the Korean Peninsula
We stressed the importance of continued peaceful dialogue amongst all concerned parties in order to realise lasting peace and stability in a denuclearised Korean Peninsula. We urged all concerned parties to resume peaceful dialogue and continue working towards the realisation of lasting peace and stability in a denuclearised Korean Peninsula, including through the full and expeditious implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration, the Pyongyang Joint Declaration and the Joint Statement by the US and DPRK leaders. We reiterated our commitment to the full implementation of all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and noted international efforts to bring about the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. We reiterated our readiness to play a constructive role, including through utilising ASEAN-led platforms such as the ARF in promoting a conducive atmosphere to peaceful dialogue amongst the concerned parties.
Situation in the Middle East
We noted the developments in the Middle East region. We reiterated the need for a comprehensive, just, and sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East region. We urged both sides to actively take positive steps to allow for negotiations to gain traction and work together towards the resumption of negotiations to achieve an enduring peace. We fully support the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people for an independent State of Palestine with the realisation of two states, Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace and security based on pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The Chair expressed sincere appreciation to ASEAN Member States for their gracious support and valuable cooperation that contributed to the fruitful outcome of the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits. As the ASEAN Chair 2020, Viet Nam extended warmest congratulations and best wishes to Brunei Darussalam, as the incoming Chair of ASEAN in 2021, to move forward ASEAN’s Community-building efforts and advance together in integration, unity and solidarity, under the Theme: “We Care. We Prepare. We Prosper”./.