ASEAN senior officials discuss comprehensive recovery framework

ASEAN logo. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MANILA, Jul 16, 2020, PNA. Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member states buckled down to start work on an Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework at a Multi-Sectoral Senior Officials’ Discussion held via video conference on July 14, PNA reported.

The discussion follows an agreement reached by Asean Leaders at the 36th Asean Summit on June 26 to begin collective work towards recovering from the impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

The Philippine delegation, led by Philippine Temporary Senior Officials’ Meeting Leader and Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Asean Affairs Junever M. Mahilum-West, was composed of Asean Socio-Cultural Community Council Leader and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Assistant Secretary Noel Macalalad, Asean Economic Community Council Leader and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty, as well as representatives from National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

The Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework, which will be accompanied by an implementation plan, shall be submitted to the Asean Leaders at the 37th Asean Summit in November 2020.

Mahilum-West spoke of a whole-of-government, whole-of-society, and whole-of-Asean Community approach which should prioritize the people’s welfare.

She highlighted the importance of cross-pillar and cross-sectoral coordination and involving all relevant existing Asean mechanisms and stakeholders with the recovery plan. Her comprehensive remarks were cited by the Vietnam Chair.

She underscored continued support for the smooth flow of essential goods and services in the region and the need to continue mitigating public health risks while strengthening economic resilience.

She cautioned Asean of the continued presence of regional security challenges during the pandemic and the importance of addressing traditional and non-traditional security challenges in Asean’s recovery framework.

The Philippines emphasized cooperation in ensuring food security and access to vaccines, medicines and medical supplies. The Philippine delegation also advocated for marginalized and vulnerable groups most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Philippines agreed with other Asean member states that in this time of pandemic, digital connectivity in the region has now become more significant. The Philippines noted that digitalization can allow for greater people participation and Asean must maximize opportunities in the digital economy.

Other points raised by the Philippines included improving regional connectivity; building resilient and sustainable supply chains; enhancing support for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs); and harnessing the role of women in the recovery.

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