Indonesian President Calls On ASEAN To Accelerate Vaccination

Reactivate Safe Travels, Promote Digital Economy

By Rosmalis Anuar

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 (NNN-Bernama) — Indonesian President Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi, has underlined three main keys for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to restart activities and accelerate economic recovery post-COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2021 held virtually on Monday, he said accelerating vaccination against the coronavirus is the first key as healthcare remains as the 10-member bloc’s utmost priority.

In the short-term, he said ASEAN should reach the target to vaccinate 70 per cent of the region’s 650 million population as soon as possible.

“Government and businesses in the region need to synergise and take joint actions. Meanwhile, in the medium-term, ASEAN needs to establish health crisis protocols to ensure that the region is more resilient to future health crisis,” he said in his keynote address.

Jokowi said the second key is reactivating safe travels, including safe tourism, as the COVID-19 situation getting more under control.

He pointed out that the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework, initiated by Indonesia last year, needs to be implemented immediately, while the recognition of vaccine certificates in the region including the interoperability of vaccine systems should also be approved.

Travel arrangements or a regional Vaccinated Travel Lane should be established for individuals who have been vaccinated and confirmed healthy or negative from COVID-19.

“If all ASEAN countries immediately facilitate the safe mobility of people, the wheels of economy shall soon run again,” he said.

He added Indonesia has also gradually re-opened its tourism industry, citing Bali as an example for safe tourism with strict health protocols, after 84.8 per cent of the island’s population had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Jokowi said accelerating the adaptation of regional economic activities towards digital economy is the third key as it could be the most effective solution in dealing with the limitations of movements and face-to-face interactions in economic activities.

As the region with the fastest growth in the world, he said digital economy in ASEAN has huge potentials. During the pandemic, digital economy grew by US$100 billion in 2020.

“This could be a stepping stone for economic advancement in our region. Indonesia supports ASEAN to become a digitally connected community.

“The ASEAN’s economy will not only recover, but also can make leaps of progress, and grow together in a fair and sustainable manner,” he said.

Meanwhile, Brunei’s ruler Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah in his opening keynote address at the summit hosted by his country said as the global economy remains fragile and uncertain, it is more important than ever for ASEAN and its dialogue partners to enhance solidarity and cooperation.

He pointed out that the 2021 ASEAN’s theme “We Care We Prepare We Prosper,” affirms ASEAN’s collective commitment to care for its people, and prepare for future challenges and opportunities with the goal of ensuring that the whole ASEAN community can sustainably prosper.

“The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement last year, demonstrated our concerted efforts towards advancing international trade cooperation and regional recovery.

“The ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 will continue to be a vehicle for furthering the aspirations for our businesses, and expanding their global reach,” he said.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah believes this year’s ASEAN Business and Investment Summit will provide a platform for policymakers and other stakeholders to discuss, share experiences and work together on how to enable businesses to become more sustainable and resilient against future shocks.


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