Singapore (VNA) – Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called for greater economic integration and cooperation and unity among ASEAN member nations to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from permanently damaging their economies.

Lee made the call at the 36th ASEAN Summit which was held on June 26 via video conference under the chair of Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Chair of ASEAN 2020.

In line with the summit's theme, "Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN", Lee proposed three ways to boost cooperation, namely sharing technologies to contain the virus and curb new infections, procuring equitable, steady and affordable supply of COVID-19 treatment and vaccines when they become available and maintaining the flow of trade.

Regarding the treatment of COVID-19 patients, Lee spoke of the need to avoid shortages and improve the supply of affordable and quality vaccines.

He told other leaders that Singapore is not only investing heavily in the research and development of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics, but also building its vaccine manufacturing capacity, enabling manufacturers to use its facilities to meet the demands in the region.

On trade and the economy, Lee said that the economic consequences of the pandemic "will linger long after the virus has been contained".

He noted that many countries are turning inwards but said an open, stable and integrated ASEAN will attract investments to the region.

On tourism, a sector badly battered by the pandemic, Lee proposed that a protocol be developed to progressively and safely lift the current intra-ASEAN restrictions on travel.

Singapore has begun to ease the restrictions on travellers from some countries, including those from ASEAN, he noted, and will further ease them as the public health risk subsides./.