PUTRAJAYA, June 17 — Malaysia emphasised two crucial aspects at the Special Asean-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on COVID-19 today, namely a comprehensive economic recovery plan and vaccine development.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said that in efforts to revive their respective economies, ASEAN member countries must also stand with Russia as partners to reap positive returns.
He said that if the partnership was viewed as a strength in ASEAN, there was no reason for global powers or international groupings, whether from the Middle East or Europe, to ignore ASEAN as a potential partner in the post-COVID-19 economic recovery plan.
Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, which was held via video conferencing, at Wisma Putra here, Hishammuddin said the ASEAN-Russia meeting proved that the smaller nations in the region could also stand tall among the global powers.
Earlier in his speech, Hishammuddin said the ASEAN grouping, with a population of over 650 million people, had a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$2.8 trillion and was a critical hub for global trade, with over US$3.4 trillion in global trade transits throughout the region each year.
“We in ASEAN are currently developing an ASEAN Economic Recovery Plan focusing not only on the financial aspects of our economy, but also on social welfare safety nets, food security and education for all.
“However, in an increasingly globalised world, the fate of our economies is intertwined with one another,” he told the meeting.
Hishamuddin said a few countries in ASEAN had shown positive strides in battling COVID-19 and had publicly mentioned the potential of travel bubbles between ‘green nations’, which would be the best way forward to kick-start the regional economy.
On the COVID-19 vaccine development proposal, Hishammuddin said the world was now deliberating over plans to get their countries back on track.
“However, moving forward, collaboration in the research and development of a vaccine must be prioritised for ASEAN and Russia to ensure lives can be saved,” he said.
Furthermore, Hishammuddin said the manufacturing of the vaccine should promote international collaboration rather than nationalistic competition.