Jakarta: The 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings, slated for November 12-15, are the most important activity of ASEAN this year, attracting widespread attention both inside and outside of the region, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and General Secretary of the National ASEAN 2020 Committee Nguyen Quoc Dung said on Monday.
"Dung told a press conference that, as the final summit to be hosted by Vietnam in its capacity as ASEAN Chair 2020, the 37th ASEAN Summit offers an opportunity for the grouping to review intra-bloc cooperation throughout the year as well as its cooperation with partners, while charting priorities in the future," said Vietnam's National ASEAN 2020 Committee in a press release on Monday.
It is also an opportunity for ASEAN leaders to meet with many leaders of major ASEAN partners, he said, noting that the summit takes place amid covid-19 and the complex developments in the global and regional strategic environment and traditional and non-traditional security issues.
The summit, therefore, is a key chance for ASEAN leaders to affirm their commitments and strong political resolve to maintain cooperation momentum and regional connectivity to cope with the pandemic and consolidate ASEAN’s centrality and position, along with outlining the bloc’s development orientations in a rapidly, complexly, and unforeseeably changing world.
There will be 20 activities at the highest-level, including the 37th ASEAN Summit, ASEAN+1 with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, the US, the UN and Australia, the 15th East Asia Summit (EAS), and the 4th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), among others.
During the summits with partners, leaders will focus on building the ASEAN Community, maintaining intra-bloc cooperation momentum, expanding and deepening relations between ASEAN and partners, promoting the grouping’s centrality, raising its international position, ensuring COVID-19 prevention and control, and discussing regional and international issues of shared concern.
The opening ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings is slated for the morning of November 12, with Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong in attending.
Vietnam is expected to symbolically hand over the ASEAN Chairmanship to Brunei at the closing ceremony on November 15, the official said.
Outcomes of the mid-term review of the Master Plan on ASEAN Community 2025 and the ASEAN comprehensive recovery framework will be announced following a plenary session of the 37th ASEAN Summit. The establishment of a regional medical supplies reserve in response to medical emergencies will also be unveiled.
Notably, the ASEAN women leaders’ summit will be held for the first time, under the chair of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, with the participation of female leaders from ASEAN member countries. The Chairwoman of the National Assembly will deliver a speech at the summit.
More than 80 documents, including proposals by Viet Nam, are set to be approved on this occasion; the highest number to date.
According to the Deputy FM, all preparations for the 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings have been completed in line with COVID-19 prevention and control measures.
Responding to reporters’ question regarding the RCEP, Dung said negotiations over the agreement have been completed and participating countries are working on internal procedures for signing. If these procedures are completed in a timely manner, the deal is expected to be signed on November 15.
The agreement will create momentum for regional trade, particularly between signatories, Dung said, stressing that the signing holds great meaning for Viet Nam, as it has worked hard as ASEAN Chair to accelerate the process.
Asked about ASEAN’s connectivity in economic recovery post-covid-19, the Deputy FM said ASEAN has been aware of the severe impact of the pandemic and no single country can fight it.
As ASEAN Chair, it has promptly issued statements in response to the pandemic, emphasising the need for ASEAN member countries to closely coordinate with each other, he said, citing the creation of the ASEAN Coordinating Council.
An international press conference on the 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings will be held on the afternoon of November 15, chaired by the PM.