State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi met with leaders of ASEAN Plus Three (which includes all ASEAN nations as well as South Korea, China and Japan) in a video conference to discuss coordinated measures to protect the region amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to working together to protect both the wellbeing of their people and regional economy. They also discussed the need for a joint pandemic response strategy, including an early warning system, to better respond to future outbreaks. In a signed agreement, the leaders pledged to “strengthen joint efforts toward postpandemic recovery, stimulate economic development and financial resilience, restore growth, connectivity and tourism, maintain market stability, and prevent potential risks of economic recession.”
Since it began, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the interconnectedness of nations within Asia. Beyond merely spreading the virus via tourism and migrant labor, containment measures taken by some nations have had indirect, but serious, consequences for their neighbors. Myanmar, in particular, is in the early stages of its own outbreak with just over 100 confirmed cases. However, it has felt the economic impacts for months as some of its largest trade partners have closed borders and internal supply lines. The signed agreement also stressed a need to strengthen the “resiliency and sustainability of regional supply chains, especially for essential goods such as food, commodities, medicines and medical supplies through smooth and continued operation of the logistics networks,” and to “not create unnecessary barriers to trade.”