MANILA—On 4 June 2020, the Economic Ministers from the ten (10) ASEAN Member States and the Plus Three Partners (China, Japan, and Republic of Korea), met through video conference to exchange views and discuss measures necessary to address COVID 19 pandemic and mitigate its impact in the economy.

video conference of the Economic Ministers from the 10 ASEAN member states plus three partners (China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea) where they exchanged views and discussed measures necessary to address COVID 19 pandemic and mitigate its impact in the economy

The meeting affirmed the need to keep the markets open for trade and investment, ensure stable supply and smooth flow of essential goods, continue cooperation towards food security and sustainability of regional supply chains, especially for food, medicines, medical and other essential supplies in the region. It also highlighted the need to support businesses, especially MSMEs, and the importance of innovation and technologies to continue business operations.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said that the meeting was successful in pushing for the strengthening of the region’s supply chain and ensuring greater cooperation to expedite economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This pandemic has shown us the vulnerabilities of our supply chains. We see that by continuing to work together, we will be able to consolidate our individual efforts, that of relevant sectoral bodies, and our other partners into a coordinated strategy that will ensure the smooth flow of essential goods and services in combating COVID-19 in the region, as well as minimize disruptions in our supply chains,” Sec. Lopez said in his remarks.

The Ministers also emphasized the need to refrain from imposing unnecessary non-tariff measures, that may derail the production and supply of essential goods.

Sec Lopez said: “In this critical time, we should refrain from imposing unnecessary non-tariff measures, such as export prohibitions and restrictions, to ensure adequate supplies of essential goods necessary to fight the pandemic.”

He also pushed for the possible creation of an ASEAN Emergency Reserves for critical medicines and medical supplies in order for the region to be fully equipped should there be another similar crisis in the future.

The Ministers agreed to strengthen joint efforts toward post-pandemic recovery in the region, stabilize manufacturing and supply chains of goods and services towards improving stability and resilience of the regional economy, restore growth and connectivity as well as to make them more resilient, sustainable and less vulnerable to future internal and external crises.

Before the adjournment of the meeting, the Ministers adopted a Joint ASEAN Plus Three Ministerial Statement on Mitigating the Economic Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic to reflect what they have resolved.♦

Date of Release: 7 June 2020