President Jokowi Discusses Health Resilience, Economic Integration on 37th ASEAN Summit, Related Summits
Date 14 November 2020
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo discussed various issues from health resilience to economic integration during the 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits.
On the 3rd day of the 37th ASEAN Summit, Saturday (14/11), the President participated in the ASEAN-New Zealand Summit virtually from the Bogor Presidential Palace, West Java, accompanied by Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung and Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi.
At the Summit, the Foreign Minister said, the President expressed hope that ASEAN’s partnership with New Zealand can be strengthened, especially on several issues.
The President, Retno said, elaborated on the importance of strengthening partnerships in the Pacific. “Good relations between New Zealand and ASEAN can bridge to strengthen our partnership with the South Pacific, including in the fields of fisheries and climate change. ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific can serve as a basis for developing such cooperation,” she said, quoting the President’s statement.
The President also conveyed the importance of continuous efforts to strengthen multilateralism. “We need to ensure that multilateralism delivers for all,” Retno quoted.
The President, Retno stated, also welcomed New Zealand’s decision to sign the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) in order to strengthen economic integration.
During the ASEAN-Australia Summit, the President emphasized two issues. First, on the importance of strengthening economic integration. The President appreciated Australia’s role in the RCEP negotiation. “The President appreciates Australia’s constructive role, so that the RCEP can be signed tomorrow,” Retno said.
The next challenge, Retno went on to say, is in the implementation of the RCEP which requires high political commitment and must be beneficial for all. “The President is confident that RCEP will be a catalyst for economic recovery in the region and even in the world,” she added.
Second, the President encouraged regional stability and security, which he considered as the foundation for post-pandemic economic recovery efforts. The President’s statement, the Foreign Minister said, was welcomed by the Australian PM.
“The President also expressed hope that all countries should comply with international law including UNCLOS 1982 and these principles must continue to be echoed by all. The President said that Australia is one of the partners for cooperation in implementing the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific,” Retno said.
At the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Summit, the President spoke on efforts to strengthen cooperation in the health sector. “Reflecting on the current pandemic, the President said that the APT needs to have regional health resilience mechanisms to deal with future pandemics. We must come out of this pandemic as winners,” Retno said.
Furthermore, the President also focused on three issues. First, the importance of developing health infrastructure at the national level. “The challenge of each country is to build health access at affordable prices. If this is realized, it will greatly help improve community resilience and public health capacity in times of emergency,” she quoted.
The President emphasized the importance of digital health technology capacity. As part of the public health infrastructure, online access to telehealth services becomes increasingly relevant during a pandemic. “Therefore, the President said that collaboration between the ASEAN Plus Three countries is vital to build health infrastructure in each country,” Retno said.
Second, the President conveyed the importance of cooperation in the development of the health industry in the region. He reminded the importance of cooperation to build a strong health industry on medical devices, medicines, raw materials for drugs, pharmaceuticals, and vaccines.
“This industry must be supported by research and development capacity. Therefore, it is important for ASEAN Plus Three countries to build a medical sciences hub,” she said, quoting the President’s statement.
Third, the President stated the importance of establishing a comprehensive regional framework. This framework can be materialized in the form of a SoP system, an early warning system, a medical device availability system, and others. Therefore, the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergency and Emerging Diseases is needed. “The President closed the statement by saying that this pandemic has become a wake up call to improve the national, regional and global health systems. Recover together recover stronger,” she said.
At the East Asia Summit (EAS), according to the Foreign Minister, the President sent a very strong message that as a leader-level dialogue forum, the EAS must continue to be used to build strategic trusts to strengthen cooperation
The President stated that due to the EAS members’ strong potentials, any agreements and efforts made by the EAS will have a big impact on the region and the world.
During the meeting, the President stated that, first, the EAS must increase health security cooperation. Health issues have become a priority in the EAS and should receive greater attention.
Furthermore, the President said, in the near future the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine in the region is a must, while in the long term the region must be better prepared to anticipate a pandemic.
“Several things that need to be maintained, according to the President, include an early warning system, a medicine mechanism, emergency medical equipment, the establishment of an inventory buffer in the region for medical devices, as well as the capacity of the health industry and health technology research,” Retno explained.
Second, the President stated that the EAS must be a driving force for world peace and stability. “The seeds of division and conflict must not be allowed, unity must be put forward in fighting COVID-19,” she quoted.
The President also recalled the values and norms contained in the Bali Principle, starting from respecting sovereignty, solving problems peacefully, to respecting international law. He also conveyed the importance of promoting mutually beneficial dialogue and cooperation. (SLN/UN)
Translated by: Fairuzzamani Inayatillah
Reviewed by: Lulu Wuliarti