ASEAN Plus Three nations must continue cooperation, prepare economies for recovery amid pandemic: PM Lee
SINGAPORE: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members as well as China, South Korea and Japan should continue to work together amid "challenging times", said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday (Oct 27).
Speaking at the 24th ASEAN Plus Three Summit, Mr Lee said that the future of cooperation between the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) nations continues to hold "much promise".
"These challenging times have again demonstrated the ability of APT countries to deepen regional cooperation and collectively combat crises. We should embrace these challenges and look upon them as opportunities to further our partnership," added Mr Lee.
APT nations should continue to work together on pandemic preparation and preparing economies for recovery, he said.
When it comes to the fight against COVID-19 and preparing for future pandemics, the APT nations must continue to build public health capacities through cooperation, exchanging information and sharing best-practices, he noted.
"We look forward to progress in the discussions on the proposals for an APT Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies and an APT Taskforce on Pandemics, which would complement ASEAN’s efforts," said Mr Lee at the summit, which was held virtually.
"Beyond the immediate health concerns, the pandemic has taken a toll on our citizens’ mental health. Singapore welcomes the adoption of the APT Leaders’ Statement on Mental Health Cooperation. This addresses a pertinent but often overlooked aspect of the wellbeing of our people."
When it comes to preparing economies for recovery, Mr Lee said he was glad that the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation was further updated this year to strengthen the "regional financial safety net".
"We should also build on the APT Leaders’ Statement on Strengthening APT Cooperation for Economic and Financial Resilience in the Face of Emerging Challenges which we adopted last year. These efforts will not only mitigate the impact of the pandemic, but also help prepare for the safe reopening of our economies and societies," said Mr Lee.
"We can also tap on innovative digital solutions to do so. For example, by leveraging the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) to develop interoperable platforms for mutually recognisable health certificates (with vaccination status)."