Thailand’s prime minister called on Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries to reopen wider to travelers and collaboratively deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 38th ASEAN Summit kicked off Tuesday via video conference with PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and other regional leaders addressing challenges facing the bloc.
Brunei, the ASEAN chair for 2021, opened the meeting summarizing how member countries cooperated in handling the spread of Covid-19 and the effects of the pandemic.
Prayut called for lessons learned from the pandemic to be applied to future challenges. He explained that ASEAN needs to implement initiatives within the group’s framework in order to efficiently solve the coronavirus problem.
Said initiatives include increasing preparedness to handle emerging diseases, reinforcing public health security in the long term, and developing vaccines.
The prime minister also urged the bloc to reduce travel restrictions and promote safe travel by means of a certification system for vaccinated travelers.
He also cautioned against the use of measures that could become obstructions to the movement of goods.
Thailand’s prime minister also discussed economic developments that are expected to result from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership deal coming into effect.
He said he will push for progress in the ASEAN-Canada free-trade agreement negotiations, in addition to adjustments aimed at creating a better balance between the economy and the environment.
Prayut proposed that ASEAN adopt a “green agenda” to guide regional progress and sustainable economic growth, saying this would fall in line with Thailand’s “biocircular green” economic model.
Prayut suggested ASEAN should campaign for balanced growth for its sustainable development by focusing on both economic interest and environmental conservation.
Covid-19 and natural disasters already showed the weakness of the present development which centered on economic benefits, he said.
The Thailand News Agency contributed to this report.