Jakarta: ASEAN and Switzerland reaffirmed commitment to further strengthen their cooperation at the 5th Meeting of the ASEAN-Switzerland Joint Sectoral Cooperation Committee held via videoconference on October 16.
The meeting noted with satisfaction the progress made in cooperation since their partnership began four years ago.
"Both sides discussed the completed, ongoing, and planned projects in implementing the Practical Cooperation Areas (PCA) for ASEAN-Switzerland Sectoral Dialogue Partnership 2017-2021," the ASEAN Secretariat said in a press release on Monday.
They explored opportunities to further deepen cooperation in the areas of connectivity; smart cities; digital innovation; disaster management and humanitarian assistance; and biodiversity, conservation and management.
Other potential areas of cooperation were also discussed, such as; technical and vocational education and training; micro, small and medium enterprises; sustainable development; forestry; cybersecurity; people-to-people contact; public health emergency; and response to the health impacts of covid-19.
Further, ASEAN and Switzerland agreed to develop the ASEAN-Switzerland Sectoral Dialogue Partnership: Practical Cooperation Areas 2022-2026, aimed at guiding and further enhancing ASEAN-Switzerland cooperation in the next five years, since the implementation of the current PCA is set to conclude at the end of next year,
At the meeting, they also shared concerns on covid-19’s continued spread and severity, and its adverse impacts on lives and livelihoods, as well as the socio-economic development around the world.
On that note, the meeting underscored the need for close collaboration and coordinated efforts to strengthen multilateral frameworks in ensuring a strong global response to the pandemic, particularly on vaccine production as well as its equal accessibility and affordability.
Additionally, the meeting deliberated on possible activities, including support for the ASEAN Covid-19 Response Fund as well as other related initiatives of ASEAN. Both sides stressed the importance of cooperation on health and vaccine resilience, joint research, provision of medical supply and equipment, as well as programmes on exchanges of experience, lessons learnt and expertise on dealing with the pandemic.
Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Political-Security Hoang Anh Tuan and Assistant State Secretary for Asia-Pacific of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation Raphael Nägeli co-chaired the meeting. Members of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN and the Ambassador of Switzerland to ASEAN Kurt Kunz were in attendance.