Jakarta: ASEAN and New Zealand reaffirmed their commitment to continue deepening their strategic partnership during the 8th ASEAN-New Zealand Joint Cooperation Committee Meeting held yesterday via video conference.
"ASEAN appreciated New Zealand’s commitment and support to ASEAN Centrality, as well as ASEAN Community building efforts," the ASEAN Secretariat stated in a press release on Friday.
Both sides welcomed the full implementation of ASEAN-New Zealand Plan of Action (2016-2020) and look forward to continuing the strong cooperation under the new five-year Plan of Action that is currently being developed for adoption in August this year.
They discussed the future direction of ASEAN-New Zealand dialogue relations and emphasised the importance of enhancing cooperation in areas of mutual interest such as cybersecurity, counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism, human rights, good governance, trade facilitation, supply chain connectivity, tourism, digital economy, and micro, small & medium enterprises.
The meeting also covered people-to-people linkages, human capital development, education, technical and vocational education and training, public health and climate change.
Other topics discussed were sustainable development, biodiversity, smart cities, connectivity, Initiative for ASEAN Integration, and cooperation with Pacific Island countries.
Under the backdrop of the current covid-19 global crisis, the meeting took note of the importance of finding innovative and adaptive ways in implementing the new Plan of Action, as well as the merits in exchanging best practices on control and containment of covid-19, and its impact.
Furthermore, the meeting commended New Zealand’s regional and global efforts in combating the impact of covid-19, through funding for personal protective equipment and testing supplies in ASEAN Member States (AMS), as well as its NZ$7 million contribution to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance which distributes vaccines to developing countries.
The meeting also recognised the need to promote a rules-based multilateral trading system, and to enhance economic resilience and competitiveness through the conclusions of the Regional Comprehensive Partnership agreement and a regional Air Services Agreement between AMS and New Zealand governments, as well as an upgrade of the Agreement on the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area.
The meeting took place on the eve of the 36th ASEAN Summit. Participants looked forward to the outcomes of the summit and side-line events, notably the ASEAN Leaders’ Special Session on Women’s Empowerment in the Digital Age, which will include remarks from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The Permanent Representative of Cambodia to ASEAN Ambassador Yeap Samnang and Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the New Zealand Mission to ASEAN Charlie Gillard co-chaired the meeting. The Permanent Representatives to ASEAN and their representatives, as well as officials from AMS, New Zealand Mission to ASEAN, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, and the ASEAN Secretariat, were also present.