BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/Asia News Network): Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said the Asean Plus Three mechanism continues to be relevant as an engine of growth for the development of the East Asian region at the 24th Asean Plus Three (APT) Summit on Wednesday (Oct 27).
The Sultan, as Asean Chair for 2021, chaired the 24th APT Summit held via video conference from Baitul Mesyuarah, Istana Nurul Iman.
He the success of the APT was due to close cooperation and the ability to come together in times of crisis, demonstrated by the swift response to the Covid-19 outbreak and collective efforts towards regional recovery.
The Sultan said the timely implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement would hasten regional economic recovery efforts.
He highlighted the importance of ensuring that Covid-19 vaccines are sufficiently produced and distributed to all those in need, given the emergence of Covid-19 variants in the Asean region.
He also emphasised the importance of strengthening cooperation on the digital economy to be able to capitalise on the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in as the Country Coordinator for the Plus Three countries said they supported inclusive recovery of APT through the equitable and timely distribution of vaccines, and coordination of relevant mechanisms.
The Republic of Korea also affirmed its commitment to scale up overseas development aid in areas of climate change, healthcare and digital economy.
The South Korean President hoped for the APT Work Plan for 2023 – 2027 will incorporate ways to promote inclusive growth to “build back better”.
Meanwhile, Premier of the State of Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang applauded the APT’s firm resolve to work together to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He reiterated China’s support for green lanes and ensuring the adequate supply of vaccines and anti-Covid materials. The Chinese Premier hoped to further increase the stability of supply chains in the region through regular Covid-19 containment measures.
Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida encouraged for further medical support among the APT towards achieving universal health coverage, as well as the necessity of economic revitalisation through expanded investments in quality infrastructure and the diversification of supply chains.
The Japanese Prime Minister also highlighted that the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific shares common fundamental principles with the Free and Open Indo-Pacific, which are important for regional peace and security.
At the summit, APT leaders called for expediting socio-economic recovery through the strengthening of policy coordination and the implementation of regional frameworks and mechanisms among APT countries.
The leaders stressed on the need for deeper regional integration and promoting new and flexible approaches in adapting to the new normal.
APT Leaders also supported deeper regional integration through enhanced cooperation and capacity building in the areas of mental health, digital economy, agriculture, and smart cities.
Meanwhile, APT leaders adopted the Statement on Cooperation on Mental Health Amongst Adolescents and Young Children.