Expert: Vietnam actively promotes regional cooperation in combating COVID-19 hinh anh 1Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (C) speaks at the ASEAN+3 Summit on COVID-19 (Photo: VNA)

Singapore (VNA)
- As ASEAN Chair in 2020, Vietnam has played an active role in leading joint efforts between regional countries to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Hoang Thi Ha from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

In an interview given to the Vietnam News Agency’s Singapore-based correspondent, she highlighted the Special ASEAN and ASEAN+3 Summits on COVID-19 Vietnam hosted on April 14, saying they sent a strong message on the importance of sharing information and coordinating action and cooperation regionally in the fight against the virus.

Apart from the top priority of health cooperation, economic priorities are also mentioned clearly at both events.

The decision made at the ASEAN Summit to ensure supply chain connectivity, especially for essential commodities, is particularly important. It is the highest expression of the motto “Think Community and Act Community” that Vietnam is actively promoting in ASEAN, Ha added.

The COVID-19 pandemic, she went on, poses the greatest challenge to Vietnam’s tenure as ASEAN Chair because it causes not only a health crisis but also impacts severely on economies and strains regional and global connections.

Vietnam has actively promoted intra-bloc solidarity and proactively proposed specific initiatives to strengthen cooperation in controlling the pandemic.

It issued an ASEAN Chair declaration proposing the coordination of action between ASEAN member nations through the timely sharing of epidemiological information, the provision of consular support for ASEAN citizens, and medical quarantining at border gates.

Ha said with the participation of defence channels from the outset, Vietnam’s initiative of introducing online drills on disease prevention for ASEAN countries’ military medical personnel will soon come into being.

Vietnam has also promoted the role of the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) through face-to-face and online meetings, and established a group of senior ASEAN officials from different sectors to enhance multi-sectoral coordination among member nations in tackling COVID-19, she added.

The ACC and the group will play an important role in ensuring the implementation of the decisions made at the Special ASEAN Summit on April 14 on regional cooperation in preventing the spread of the disease.

Vietnam is fully aware of the importance of maintaining and promoting international cooperation through ASEAN channels, especially with dialogue countries and within ASEAN 3. This is significant for information exchange relating to the research, production, and supply of medicines and COVID-19 vaccines.

According to Ha, in the context of countries inside and outside ASEAN closing their borders due to the pandemic, continuing international cooperation is of long-term economic and geopolitical importance, contributing to minimising disruptions in the supply chain, restoring post-outbreak international trade and investment quickly, and maintaining an open and inclusive regional structure.

Vietnam’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19 have been truly impressive, she believes, winning the confidence of local people and the appreciation of the international community.

Another highlight is that Vietnam has mobilised its entire political system to combat the disease, with substantial support coming from the people.

Despite its limited resources, Vietnam’s disease prevention policy is considered quite friendly on the poor and foreigners, she said, adding that this contributes to improving the country’s reputation in the international arena./.