Honorable Chair, Excellencies,
In particular, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Prime Minister Suga of Japan.
The 1997 East Asian financial crisis gave us an invaluable experience. We learned that one country’s crisis became its neighbor’s crisis, and we realized how important it is to respond and cooperate together. This experience ultimately led to the launch of the ASEAN+3 Summit.
Now, building on the experience of cooperation accumulated over the last 23 years, we have become a model of international coordination as we work in solidarity to battle against COVID-19. The COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and the reserve of essential medical supplies are meaningful outcomes that the ASEAN+3 countries attained together. We have also facilitated the essential movement of people across our borders.
The ideas we discussed at the Special ASEAN+3 Summit in April are developing into tangible achievements, which I find to be truly significant. Going forward, I hope that essential business travel will expand further, to the extent it does not undermine disease control efforts.
As COVID-19 persists longer than anticipated, there are more challenges for us to solve together. We must upgrade our cooperation in the area of public health and work towards the development and equitable supply of vaccines and treatments. We must also establish a timely and transparent coordination mechanism to prepare against new infectious diseases which can strike at any time.
We must prepare preemptively for the post-COVID-19 era on the economic front as well. The global economy is projected to recover to pre-pandemic levels by next year, but the speed of this recovery will be very uneven among countries. We are still faced with the wave of trade protectionism and uncertainties in the financial markets. There are concerns that an accelerated transition to a digital economy could widen inequality.
No country can solve these challenges on its own. We must work to strengthen the resilience of our economies and identify measures for inclusive, sustainable growth. To that end, we must pool our wisdom and cooperate with one another. I hope that ASEAN+3 can become the hope for the global economy in the post-COVID-19 era. Through today’s discussions, I hope we can further reinforce ASEAN+3 cooperation and share our wisdom for mutual prosperity.