KUALA LUMPUR, Nov. 12 -- The leaders of the region are participating at the 37th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit and related meetings beginning today until Sunday, with the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and COVID-19 response initiatives among its main agenda.
The scheduled signing of the world's largest free trade agreement (FTA) on the last day of the summit (Sunday) is the product of eight years of negotiations since it was formally launched at the 2012 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
Besides the 10-member ASEAN countries, other participating countries in RCEP are Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.
Hosted by Vietnam as ASEAN Chair 2020, Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will lead the Malaysian delegation at the biannual summit virtually from here.
Also part of the Malaysian delegation are Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein as well as Senior Minister and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.
The summit will be chaired by Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in his capacity as ASEAN Chair 2020 under the theme “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN."
Held virtually due to COVID-19, other main agenda include scrutinising ASEAN initiative in its coronavirus response.
ASEAN leaders also are expected to announce the establishment of the ASEAN Regional Centre on Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.
The centre, an ASEAN-Japan cooperation project, promotes public health and safety through control and prevention of disease, injury and disability at the regional level.
Three important official documents will be launched during this summit including on the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies, a regional effort to support the needs of member states in public health emergencies.
At the 36th ASEAN Summit in June, leaders, among others, agree to strengthen the capacity of ASEAN and existing regional mechanisms on public health and emergencies response.
Meanwhile, the leaders will also discuss ASEAN’s way forward, including the implementation of ASEAN Community Vision 2025. The official release of the mid-term review of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 is also expected today.
Another official document that will be released at this summit is the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework that will help to intensify intra-ASEAN trade and investment as well as accelerate the region’s digital transformation to boost economy and improve societal well-being, post- COVID-19.
At the end of the 37th ASEAN Summit, Vietnam will handover the chairmanship to Brunei.
ASEAN, established in 1967, comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Malaysian National News Agency
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