InfoQuest, (April 15, 2020) -- Government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat summed up the key points made by Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at a special meeting of ASEAN leaders to combat Covid-19 outbreak. At the meeting, Mr. Prayut said the virus was raging around the world, affecting people's lives and livelihoods, as well as the economy and society. According to McKinsey Institute, global GDP growth will fall by 1.5 percent this year, and even by 4.7 percent if the outbreak worsens. And the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) pointed out that developing countries will be hit hardest amid the pandemic, with economic losses of more than 200 billion U.S. dollars.
Thailand believes that all parties must work together to contain the outbreak, reduce the number of infections and seek joint programs to mitigate the overall impact on the economy and society. The Thai government has already declared a nationwide state of emergency from March 26 to April 30, and established the Covid-19 outbreak emergency management committee to resolve relevant issues. To contain source infection, the government stressed travel restrictions and screening for travelers from abroad. At the medium end, it urges the public to stay at home and prevent the spread of the disease for the country. While at the terminal end, the government attaches great importance to the treatment of patients and adopt relief measures to mitigate the impact of the outbreak on the economy, as well as supports the development and procurement of medical equipment and researches for vaccines, and makes full use of information technology.
The prime minister stressed that no country can deal with this threat alone and proposed five important guidelines.
First, ASEAN must strengthen cooperation in all aspects to jointly solve the problem, and suggests that ASEAN and its Plus three dialogue partners -- China, Japan and South Korea should establish a joint fund to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The agreed funds will be allocated to fight against the virus, including the purchase of test reagents, personal protective equipment, and medical equipment, as well as research and development for drugs and vaccines, which will enhance ASEAN's self-reliance in the long run.
Second, ASEAN must facilitate the transport and logistics of goods, customs clearance and border trade between countries to ensure that local consumers have timely access to adequate medical products and necessities during times of crisis.
Third, ASEAN countries should develop digital economy, new technology and e-commerce. Mr. Prayut proposed speeding up the interconnection of e-payment systems and unifying QR code standard to make regional trade easier.
Fourth, ASEAN should draw lessons from the fight against Covid-19 to prepare for future challenges that may threaten human life and health. The economic philosophy of self-sufficiency is an option to help cushion the impact on the economy and, in the long run, to strengthen the stability within the ASEAN economies and enhance ASEAN's capacity in self-reliance.
Fifth, the role of the ASEAN secretary-general in coordinating other emergencies to enable timely, systematic and comprehensive assistance should be intensified.
Mr. Prayut appreciated the ASEAN secretary-general for his assistance provided for Thailand and other ASEAN members to jointly address forest fires and cross-border smog, and stressed that ASEAN should take advantage of the crisis to strengthen regional and multilateral cooperation and focus on regional unity and cooperation beyond the region.
Mr. Prayut also praised Vietnam, the chair country of ASEAN this year, for its positive role in organizing a timely and efficient joint response to the outbreak, and extended welcome to Malaysia to join the ASEAN family.
Source: InfoQuest, by Tanit /Tanawat/ Rachada, translated by Xinhua Silk Road
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