At the initiative of Singapore, as ASEAN coordinator, and Cambodia as the ASEM13 Host, an unprecedented ASEM standalone Ministerial Statement on COVID-19 and the Post-Pandemic Socio Economic Recovery has been released. The Statement underlines the transboundary nature of the pandemic and the importance of strengthening international cooperation and multilateralism as key tools to address the crisis. It reaffirms the partner’s commitment to working together to facilitate open scientific research, best practices sharing, innovation and technical cooperation. The importance of international trade and regional economic integration to support regional economic recovery is clearly underlined. The ASEM partners further commit to work together in the Post-Pandemic phase to accelerate sustainable socio-economic recovery and to collaborate in strengthening disease outbreak early warning systems.
Key aspects of the Statement are presented in the animated infographic below:
ASEM is comprised of 53 partners, encompassing 21 Asian countries, 30 European countries, the ASEAN Secretariat, and the European Commission. Collectively, ASEM partners represent 65 percent of the global economy, 60 percent of the world's population, and 55 percent of the world trade.
Although from Oceania only Australia and New Zealand are members of ASEM, the global and inter-regional cooperation impetus steered by this process is expected to generate a positive impact across all countries in the Pacific. On COVID-19, Pacific Islands Forum Leaders have already invoked since April the Biketawa Declaration to respond to the crisis as one Blue Pacific family, including a proposal for a Pacific Humanitarian Pathway (expediting medical assistance, expediting customs clearance of medical supplies, etc.).