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ASEAN 37th Summit wraps up, marking Vietnam's successful chairpersonship
Linh Pham 08:23, 2020/11/16
Among documents signed at the summit, RCEP is the world's largest free trade agreement.

A number of important issues have been passed at the 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits that closed on November 15, marking Vietnam's successful year of chairpersonship amid global turbulence.

 Representatives of ASEAN member states and partners at the closing ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi. Photo: Thong Nhat

Speaking at a press conference after the summit, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in the spirit of building cohesive and responsive ASEAN, Vietnam has been united with other ASEAN member states in pursuing consistent stance and action for an open, transprarent and rule-based region. This view is clearly reflected in ASEAN’s documents in 2020, especially in the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' joint statement on the importance of maintaining peace and stability in Southeast Asia on the occasion of the bloc’s 53rd establishment in August 2020. 

Leaders of ASEAN member states have reached consensus on better links between ASEAN and its partners, stronger commitment to multilateralism and economic liberalization, sharing regional and global emerging challenges, promoting the ASEAN Centrality and dialogues, preventing conflicts, building trust, and realizing rule-based approach.

(1) The ASEAN leaders approved mid-term review of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the implementation of the ASEAN Charter that highlights the development of sub-regions and the bloc; and the Hanoi Declaration on the ASEAN Community Vision after 2025.

(2) They passed the Narrative of ASEAN Identity that will enhance common values with a higher degree of we-feeling and sense of belonging and sharing in all the benefits of regional integration; approved the Hanoi Declaration on Strengthening Social Work towards Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community; and held the 1st ASEAN Women Leaders' Summit. The member states worked toward a community rich in identity and culture by encouraging the raising of ASEAN countries’ flags and using ASEAN’s anthems to bring the bloc’s image closer to the people and community.

(3) The member states announced the ASEAN Covid-19 Response Fund and the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies, Framework on Public Health Emergencies and ASEAN Health Center on Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases; ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and Plan of Action to soon support the people and businesses in overcoming consequences of the pandemic.

(4) ASEAN leaders agreed to boost the partnership by expanding the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) to 43 members with the admission of Cuba, Columbia, and South Africa. The 15th East Asia Summit (EAS) marked the ratification of two declarations. The ASEAN+3 emphasizes the economic-resilience amid the global health crisis while the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between 10 Southeast Asian countries and South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand is expected to boost economic liberalization and connectivity.

At the summit, more than 80 documents have been ratified by ASEAN and its partners. Among them, the signing of RCEP, the largest free trade agreement in the world, covering about 30% of the world’s population and one third of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Initiated in November 2012 at the 21st ASEAN Summit held in Cambodia, RCEP aims to establish an economic platform between ASEAN member states and its partners with a focus on trade in goods, services and investment.

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