Expert, official praise Việt Nam's performance as ASEAN Chair

November 19, 2020 - 07:55
Japanese Ambassador to ASEAN Chiba Akira has spoken highly of Việt Nam's performance as ASEAN Chair in 2020 with the successful organisation of the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings despite COVID-19.


Japanese Ambassador to ASEAN Chiba Akira. VNA/VNS Photo

JAKARTA — Japanese Ambassador to ASEAN Chiba Akira has spoken highly of Việt Nam's performance as ASEAN Chair in 2020 with the successful organisation of the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings despite COVID-19.

“It must have been tremendously difficult under COVID-19. And we were concerned about how it will take place. But Việt Nam, through its excellent chairmanship led us to a very good conclusion,” he told Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Jakarta.

"Time difference must have been a big task for the Vietnamese Government. But all in all, it went very good, very smooth. And the exchange of opinions was very frank.” 

“It was a tremendous success,” he said.

He expressed his thanks to the Vietnamese Government for the organisation of the event, saying he believed all participants were satisfied. 

“I think especially under COVID-19, this will set a good example to ASEAN as a whole," he added.

Sharing the message Japan reiterated throughout the summits, Ambassador Chiba said the most important thing was Japan’s support to the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP). The AOIP has many fundamental principles that are shared with Japan's own policies. 

He affirmed Japan’s willingness to extend support and help realise the AOIP.

Regarding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, which was signed by 10 ASEAN countries and five partners on Sunday, Chiba said it was a very important instrument for the region to facilitate not only trade but also issues that will relate to the resilience of supply chains. 

“RCEP is very important to all of us, of course to Japan. And we look forward to further implementing trade through RCEP,” he said.

According to the diplomat, RCEP, which will cover almost half the population and GDP of the entire world, will help Japan sell many products to all participating countries. At the same time, Japan is ready to open its market to many ASEAN products and that will be good news for Japanese consumers.

Ambassador Chiba said Japan is ready to help ASEAN countries in many aspects like infrastructure building amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that caused economic problems for ASEAN countries.

Japan is also ready to fund projects that relate to vulnerable parts of each community, and plans to continue promoting co-operation programmes in human resources development, he added.

On Japan-ASEAN co-operation in 2020, the diplomat said the biggest project that Japan has run with ASEAN is the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (AC-PHEED), launched at the Japan-ASEAN Summit.

On policies and strategic orientations for the ASEAN-Japan partnership, he underlined the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific issued by ASEAN, saying Japan is very keen on working with ASEAN through its newly established AOIP.

ASEAN demonstrates solidarity and cohesiveness

A Malaysian expert has praised Việt Nam for its work as ASEAN 2020 Chair with positive results at the 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits.

“ASEAN has again demonstrated its solidarity and cohesiveness in facing the COVID-19 pandemic and its commitment to multilateralism by signing the RCEP,” said Yeah Kim Leng, Senior Fellow and Director of the Economic Studies Programme at the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia at Sunway University to the Vietnam News Agency’s correspondent in Kuala Lumpur.

The RCEP agreement is a notable success of the 37th ASEAN Summit in bringing the concept that was first mooted at the Bali ASEAN Summit in 2011 to reality in 2020, he said, adding that another impressive achievement is the record number of documents signed at the summit that shows the close co-operation among member countries in addressing common challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, food security and climate change. 

According to Leng, the year 2020 has been most challenging for all countries as they confront unprecedented global health and economic crises. As a regional bloc, ASEAN has navigated both crises relatively well despite the difficulties posed by travel restrictions, border closures and health measures instituted to contain the outbreak. 

Despite these difficulties, ASEAN under Việt Nam’s chairmanship marched forward as a cohesive body forging collaborative responses to the challenges facing the region and avoiding the negative fallouts from the ongoing trade tension and geopolitical rivalry between the US and China. 

Besides being among the few countries expected to experience positive economic growth in 2020, Việt Nam has demonstrated its strong capability to contain the virus outbreak. Under its chairmanship, numerous initiatives have been rolled out in 2020, including the conclusion of RCEP. 

“With an increasingly dynamic economy, Việt Nam is expected to be a leading growth engine for ASEAN and a magnet for rising trade and investment among RCEP countries,” noted the Malaysian professor. VNS