The joint statement was the outcome of the virtual Special ASEAN Economic Minister (AEM) Plus Three consultations on the same day to implement instructions from ASEAN+3 leaders made at the Special ASEAN+3 Summit on COVID-19 on April 14.
The meeting was chaired by Tran Tuan Anh, Minister of Industry and Trade, as Vietnam holds the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020.
The joint statement puts forward measures to restrain the application of unnecessary moves that may affect the flow of essential goods, medicine, and medical supplies in the region.
Non-tariff barriers on the flow of goods and services in supply chains will be further removed, but restriction measures will remain in place to tackle COVID-19.
Of note, the ministers encouraged the building of guidelines that allow for the movement of business people through borders, without harming efforts to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
Efforts to optimise the ASEAN+3 Emergency Rice Reserve and seek the development of another reserve on essential medical supplies were also high on the agenda.
They also vowed to support and allow businesses, especially micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), to capitalise on technology and digital trade as well as to bolster customs cooperation to facilitate customs clearance at border gates.
The countries agreed to continue devising the ASEAN+3 Action Plan with more detailed measures in order to realise the joint statement.
The adoption of the joint statement and preparation for the ASEAN+3 Action Plan demonstrate the solidarity and cooperation between ASEAN members and the three partners, in a “Cohesive and Responsive” spirit and in a broad effort to cope with COVID-19 while standing ready to face other challenges in the time to come.