Singaporean PM urges Australia, NZ to work with ASEAN in easing travel restrictions hinh anh 1 Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Singapore (VNA) -
Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong has called on Australia and New Zealand to work with ASEAN countries in easing travel restrictions.

 Lee made the call while attending the virtual second ASEAN-Australia Biennial Summit and ASEAN-New Zealand Commemorative Summit on November 14, saying this will facilitate the resumption of economic activities as the COVID-19 pandemic stabilises.

During the ASEAN-Australia Summit, he affirmed that the reopening of borders in a safe and calibrated manner will facilitate the resumption of economic activities, and is an important confidence marker for the countries’ people and businesses.

Lee also spoke highly of Australia’s support for ASEAN's pandemic response and recovery plans, such as by contributing to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, other initiatives in health security, economic recovery and stability, and through the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Programme Phase II.

During the ASEAN-New Zealand Summit, he said countries have to work together to ensure an equitable, effective and sustainable supply of treatment and vaccines, in a joint effort to enable a new normal to emerge from the pandemic.

The Singaporean PM noted that Singapore, Australia and New Zealand support "vaccine multilateralism" and are Friends of the Covax Facility.

He also called for cooperation in the development and supply of COVID-19 vaccines, and in economic recovery by upholding a rules-based system with open supply chains.

In his speech, Lee said the ASEAN-New Zealand relationship has progressed steadily over the past 45 years.

The two have been strategic partners since 2015. They have successfully implemented all action lines in the ASEAN-New Zealand Plan of Action of 2016 to 2020, and have finalised the Plan of Action for the next five years.

Lee called on all countries to press on with the General Review of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the most comprehensive FTA ASEAN has concluded to date and which can be "a pathfinder for future FTAs".

On economic recovery, he reaffirmed Singapore's commitment to abide by "a free, open and rules-based multilateral trading system and maintain supply chain connectivity", citing the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) slated for November 15 as a major step forward./.