Asean should reevaluate its path post-Covid-19

by DASHVEENJIT KAUR / pic credit:

ASEAN nations should reevaluate its economy post-pandemic to one that is more resilient, digitally enabled, inclusive and sustainable, says the regional bloc secretary general Datuk Lim Jock Hoi.

In a virtual Covid-19 economic recovery plan series by CIMB Asean Research Institute (CARI) last Friday, Lim said the unprecedented health and socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic provides Asean with the opportunity to recalibrate its growth trajectory.

“The opportunity to recalibrate growth comes at the midway point of the second Asean Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025 as Asean goes through the Mid-Term Review this year to evaluate its past progress and plan for the future.

“The region is also at a critical period given the commencement of the development of a consolidated strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) and the final preparation stage of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) towards its signing,” he said.

He noted that among the most striking trends is the acceleration of digital technology adoption during the pandemic, which offered added impetus and urgency for Asean to embrace new technologies and address the digital divide across and within the regional bloc member states.

Lim also stressed the significance of the region’s early commitment to cooperate instead of turning inward amid the pandemic. “Asean will continue to work together with external partners and partner institutions. This demonstrates the region’s commitment to multilateral cooperation to effectively address the expansive implications of this unprecedented threat,” he added.

“Asean has taken steps to work together among member states and dialogue partners. The bloc just held its 36th summit virtually and adopted a vision statement, which recognises the social and economic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic and reaffirmed Asean leaders’ strong commitment to sustain the momentum of the community’s building.

“The leaders also announced the establishment of a Covid-19 Asean response Fund and the development of a comprehensive recovery plan,” he said.

Lim also highlighted that the private sector’s role is indispensable in the post-pandemic economic recovery.

“The private sector will play an integral role in these efforts, to restore employment, business confidence and in working towards a swift and strong recovery,” he said.

At the 36th Asean summit recently, the bloc recognised the crucial role of the private sector in the post-pandemic economic recovery, and aimed to foster cross-pillar and cross-sectoral collaboration within the region, as well as with relevant stakeholders to ensure a coordinated response to the pandemic.

“Earlier, the Asean Business Advisory Council has proposed for the regional bloc to set up an Asean High-Level Special Commission to expedite the decision-making process in regards to the region’s post-pandemic recovery plan.

“The mechanism on how to move forward with the proposal is under discussion to avoid overlaps with the existing Asean mechanism.

CARI chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid also shared his hopes on the private sector for an effective Asean response towards the economic challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.