Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation this afternoon issued a press release on the outcomes of the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits, 22nd ASEAN-Republic of Korea Summit, 24th ASEAN-China Summit and 9th ASEAN-U.S. Summit, held via videoconference yesterday.

The Summit deliberated on key issues pertaining to ASEAN Community Building and ASEAN’s COVID-19 response.

The Leaders welcomed the positive progresses achieved in the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 in spite of the ongoing pandemic, and commended the Brunei’s Chairmanship for the deliverables during the year. The Leaders welcomed all interested stakeholders to engage with ASEAN to support the full and effective implementation of ASEAN’s key initiatives on COVID-19 response, notably the utilization of the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund to procure vaccines for the region, the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) and the operationalization of the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework (ATCAF). The Leaders encouraged mutual recognition of vaccine certificates to ensure timely reopening of the region and travel bubbles. The strengthening of regional health system, regional supply chains, the early implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) among others were raised as important measures to revitalize growth and boost confidence in regional trade and economic recovery. The Leaders also expressed support to Cambodia’s incoming ASEAN Chairmanship in 2022.

At the Meeting, Samdech Techo Prime Minister emphasized the urgent need to increase joint efforts to revitalize regional economic growth and integration through the free flow of trade and investment, strengthened regional competitiveness, greater supply chain connectivity and movement of people with due considerations for public health safety. Samdech Techo Prime Minister expressed support for the preparation of the ASEAN Community Post-2025 Vision and welcomed the adoption of the Terms of Reference of the High-Level Task Force for the Vision’s formulation. Samdech Techo Prime Minister expressed appreciation for the adoption of the ASEAN Digital Master Plan 2025 as the region is trying to take advantage from digital economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Samdech Techo Prime Minister also encouraged the effective implementation of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan IV and informed the meeting on Cambodia’s plan to organize a regional workshop in 2022 to review ASEAN achievements in narrowing development gaps in the region.

Samdech Techo Prime Minister also updated the Meeting on the result of Cambodia’s COVID-19 inoculation campaign and Cambodia’s plan to launch the Strategy for Recovering and Promoting Cambodia’s Economic Growth, through Living with the COVID-19 in the Path of New Normal by the end of 2021.

Samdech Techo Prime Minister emphasized the importance of narrowing the development gap within ASEAN, enhancing regional connectivity, and ensuring ASEAN’s sustainable and inclusive development in all dimensions. He also underscored the significance of maintaining and promoting ASEAN Centrality and solidarity to drive the ASEAN Community Building process towards greater integration, peace, harmony, and prosperity.

39th ASEAN Summit

The Leaders exchanged views on ASEAN’s external relations as well as pressing regional and international issues of common interest and concern.

The Leaders called for the strengthening and broadening of constructive engagements with ASEAN’s external partners based on the principles of mutual respect and interest to reinforce ASEAN Community Building efforts.

The Summit looked forward to the ASEAN-Russia Summit to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Relations, the Special ASEAN-China Summit to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, and the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit to commemorate the 45th Anniversary of ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations. They also welcomed the conferment of Dialogue Partner status to the UK and highlighted that Brunei Darussalam will be the first ASEAN Country Coordinator for the ASEAN-UK Dialogue Relations for 2021-2024.

In the context of the evolving regional architecture and intensifying geopolitical tensions and rivalries, the Leaders underscored the critical importance of strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation across all three pillars of the ASEAN Community within ASEAN and with ASEAN’s external partners through ASEAN-led mechanisms to strengthen ASEAN Centrality and unity for sustainable peace and development.

On the South China Sea, the Leaders underlined the importance of having the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability, and prosperity. They also stressed on the significance of the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety while welcoming the progress of the substantive negotiations towards the early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) consistent with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

On the development in Myanmar, the Leaders expressed ASEAN’s readiness to assist Myanmar in a positive, peaceful and constructive manner and welcomed continued support from ASEAN’s external partners for the swift and complete implementation of the Five-Point Consensus (5PC).

Samdech Techo Prime Minister expressed Cambodia’s full support to the adoption of the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on Upholding Multilateralism aimed at building an inclusive and sustainable ASEAN Community. On external relations, Samdech Techo Prime Minister welcomed the United Kingdom as the 11th Dialogue Partner of ASEAN, and voiced support for China’s and Australia’s proposals to expand their respective strategic partnership with ASEAN to a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” concurrently. Samdech Techo Prime Minister also reiterated call to expedite procedures to accept Timor-Leste’s bid for ASEAN membership.

On regional and international issues, Samdech Techo Prime Minister called on all parties directly concerned to fully and effectively implement the 2002 DOC in its entirety and to commit to substantive negotiations towards the early conclusion of a COC that is consistent with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS. He also stressed on the importance of ASEAN’s central and constructive role in assisting Myanmar to resolve the ongoing situations and underlined the need to expedite the implementation of the 5PC, including the early visit to Myanmar by the Special Envoy to assist Myanmar in achieving an inclusive peaceful solution to the political crisis. Samdech Techo Prime Minister expressed regret that Myanmar chose not to the attend the Summits.

Samdech Techo Prime Minister also raised concern about the deepening of the geopolitical rivalries between major powers that may trigger arms race and destabilize peace in the region. On the Indo-Pacific, Samdech Techo Prime Minister reiterated Cambodia’s stance in welcoming any initiatives that are inclusive and complementary, supportive of cooperation and not confrontation, and encouraged the implementation of the practical cooperation in the four areas in the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific.

During the Summits, the ASEAN Leaders adopted 13 documents, including the Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on the Strategic and Holistic Initiative to Link ASEAN Responses to Emergencies and Disasters (ASEAN SHIELD); ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on Upholding Multilateralism; ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on the Blue Economy; Terms of Reference for the High-Level Task Force on the ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision and the Roadmap; among others.

22nd ASEAN-Republic of Korea (ROK) Summit

The Summit noted with satisfaction the progress of ASEAN-ROK Dialogue Relations over the years, and reaffirmed the commitment to further strengthen the ASEAN-ROK Strategic Partnership through the New Southern Policy Plus (NSPP).

The ASEAN Leaders commended the ROK’s robust support and active role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthening health systems through the inaugural meetings of the ASEAN-ROK Health Dialogue Channel.

The Summit noted the progress of the implementation of the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Vision Statement on Peace, Prosperity and Partnership (2021-2025), and expressed appreciation to the ROK for supporting the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre (ARMAC) through its three-year project on “Enhancing Victim Assistance Programme in the ASEAN Member States.”

The Summit also emphasized commitment to strengthen close collaboration in the fields of digital and green economy, MSMEs, education and, in particular joint efforts to address economic recovery. The Summit reaffirmed the commitment to expedite respective domestic procedures to have the RCEP Agreement enter into force on 1 January 2022.

The Summit also agreed to continue working on the maintenance and promotion of regional peace, security, stability and prosperity. In this spirit, the Summit welcomed the restoration of inter-Korean communication lines which contribute to further improving and developing inter-Korean relations.

While sharing the above notes, Samdech Techo Prime Minister informed the Meeting of Cambodia’s adoption of the Third Protocol to Amend the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement (AKFTA) and expressed great pleasure for the signing of the Cambodia-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) on the same day. Samdech Techo Prime Minister reiterated Cambodia’s appreciation to the establishment of the ASEAN-ROK Industrial Innovation Centre (AKIIC), ASEAN-Korea Standardization Joint Research Centre (AKSRC), ASEAN-ROK Startups Partnership and ASEAN-ROK Science and Technology Cooperation Centre, as joint endeavors to further strengthening cooperation in the fields of science, digital technology and innovation that will significantly contribute to the socio-economic development in the entire ASEAN region. Samdech Techo Prime Minister also encouraged the ROK to continue supporting the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan IV.

24th ASEAN- China Summit

The Summit highlighted the importance of working closely together to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and advancing the region’s recovery and growth. The ASEAN Leaders expressed appreciation to China for its support for ASEAN Community building efforts as well as ASEAN’s pandemic-related initiatives.

The Summit reiterated the commitment to uphold an open, inclusive, transparent, and rules-based multilateral trading system, as embodied in the World Trade Organization (WTO), especially amidst global trade uncertainties and the trend of protectionism. The Summit acknowledged that ASEAN and China’s dialogue relations are one of the most comprehensive cooperation, and both sides are mutual largest trading partners. China commended the heart-to-heart engagement with ASEAN and considers the latter as China’s priority in diplomacy. China also informed the Meeting of its ratification of RCEP.

The Leaders noted with satisfaction the remarkable achievements attained since the establishment of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations in 1991 as they welcomed the commemorative activities to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Dialogue Relations, and took note of China’s proposal to establish the “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”.

The Summit looked forward to the convening of a Special ASEAN-China Summit to celebrate 30 years of dialogue relations in November 2021, which will be co-chaired by the Sultan of Brunei, His Majesty Hassanal Bolkiah and China’s President Xi Jinping.

Samdech Techo Prime Minister expressed profound thank to China for assisting developing countries, including Cambodia to fight against Covid-19, through the provision of vaccines, medical equipment, and technical assistance. To expedite regional economic recovery, Samdech Techo Prime Minister encouraged China to provide support for the cooperation in five strategic areas under the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and other initiatives such as the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework and the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies.

Samdech Techo Prime Minister was pleased with the achievements made in regional connectivity, stemming from the synergy between the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). He reiterated Cambodia’s support for the establishment of the “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” between ASEAN and China as well as the adoption of the three joint statements on 1) Further Enhancing Trade and Economic Cooperation at the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations; 2) Cooperation in Support of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework; and 3) Enhancing Green and Sustainable Development Cooperation. He also expressed Cambodia’s support for the designation of 2022 as the Year of “Sustainable Development Cooperation”.

9th ASEAN-U.S. Summit

The Summit underscored the importance of continued ASEAN-U.S. cooperation and welcomed the convening and outcomes of various high-level engagements between ASEAN and the U.S. concerning public health cooperation and COVID-19 response.

ASEAN expressed appreciation for the U.S.’ support for ASEAN’s pandemic recovery efforts, which includes the contributions of over USD 194 million in COVID-19 related assistance to the region, the pledge of USD 500,000 to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and the donation of 23 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to ASEAN Member States; and noted that the U.S.’ total donation of 1.1 billion doses for low- and middle-income countries would further support the global recovery from the pandemic.

The Summit commended the good progress made in implementing the Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-U.S. Strategic Partnership (2021-2025). In this regard, ASEAN emphasized on the importance of closer cooperation and collaboration to address all action lines by 2025, including through the U.S.’ proposals for expanded engagement with ASEAN in the areas of public health, transportation, gender equality and women’s empowerment, energy, labour, environment and climate change.

The Summit welcomed the adoption of the ASEAN-U.S. Leaders’ Statement on Digital Development which aims to strengthen ASEAN’s preparedness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

The Leaders also discussed regional and international issues that have a significant bearing on regional peace, stability and security such as the developments in the South China Sea, Myanmar and the Korean Peninsula.

Samdech Techo Prime Minister expressed appreciation to the US for donating COVID-19 vaccines, medical equipment and grant aid to Cambodia, and encouraged the US to continue providing necessary supports to ASEAN in the fight against COVID-19.

To revitalize and boost economic growth in the region, Samdech Techo Prime Minister expressed support for the launch of the ASEAN-US Statement on Digital Development and encouraged the United States-ASEAN Business Council (U.S.-ABC) to work closely with ASEAN member states to increase trade activities and investment flows in the ASEAN region, especially by promoting the implementation of the ASEAN-United States Trade and Investment Facilitation Agreement (ASEAN-U.S. TIFA).

Samdech Techo Prime Minister also called for the strengthening and expanding of ASEAN-US partnership and cooperation in all sectors, especially health, digital, transport, energy, and environment and climate change.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press

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