Indonesian President Joko Widodo pushed Association Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) member countries to open travel bubble in the first quarter of 2021 to rejuvenate the country' tourism sector that has been decimate by the pandemic - Photo by President Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – President Joko Widodo pushed Association Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) member countries to open travel bubble in the first quarter of 2021 to rejuvenate the country’ tourism sector that has been decimate by the pandemic. Currently, the country has a travel corridor agreement with Singapore, allowing eligible travelers to make business or official trips by both citizens.

He also welcomed the issuance of the ASEAN declaration on an ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement (TCA) Framework at the 37th ASEAN Summit, which was held virtually via video conference on Thursday (11/13). The ASEAN Travel Corridor arrangement was previously proposed by him at the 36th ASEAN Summit on June 26, 2020.

“I warmly welcome that we will issue an ASEAN Declaration on an ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework. For this reason, the plan to implement the ASEAN TCA must be realized immediately,” said the head of state from the Bogor Presidential Palace, West Java.

According to him, ASEAN needs to immediately realize the establishment of temporary fast lanes and health protocols on departure and arrival, use of integrated digital platforms in the region, determine the port of entry, as well as strict health protocol provisions.

“I hope the ASEAN TCA can be operationalized in the first quarter of next year. This arrangement will raise optimism that our economic activities can gradually be reactivated by disciplined application of health protocols, ” he told the leaders.

He also sent another optimism on the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on Nov. 15. The trade agreement was successfully signed after ASEAN countries negotiated for around eight years.

On the regional peace and stability, Widodo stated, that ASEAN must be solid, maintain balance, continue to convey messages to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, continue to convey important messages for our partners to respect the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, and continue to convey messages on the importance of respect for international law including UNCLOS 1982.

“With solidity and a strong commitment to advancing inclusive cooperation, ASEAN will not be caught between these rivals and ASEAN will be able to play a central role in developing regional cooperation. Of course this is not an easy thing. But I am sure, with solidity and strong commitment. we will be able to run it, “he said.

In the ASEAN – China meeting, Widodo encouraged the two parties to achieve more progress. According to him, China is a strategic partner in the digital field because it leads the global digital economy and is home to a third of the world’s unicorns, including Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.

ASEAN and China, he hopes, immediately to reactivate the economic cooperation, through harmonizing policies, and ensuring global supply chains by removing trade barriers. Then, the he talked about fulfilling the availability of vaccines and medicines in the region.

He also touched on the issue of stability and peace in the Indo – Pacific region, which in his view has been marked by uncertainty recently, including sharpening rivalries and tensions in the South China Sea. The President expressed his concern that if this continued, overall recovery in the region from the Covid-19 pandemic would be even more difficult.

When delivering a speech at the ASEAN – Japan Summit, Widodo invited Japan to work with ASEAN and given the great potential to both sides. In 2019, said Widodo, Japanese investment in ASEAN reached US$20.3 billion, the second largest in the region. The ASEAN – Japan trade volume reached $225.9 billion. Tourist visits between the two reached around 10 million people.

According to him, there are two forms of cooperation that ASEAN and Japan can undertake to restore the regional economic conditions amid the pandemic. The head of state asserted, ASEAN could become Japan’ main partner in diversifying its supply chain as well as expanding investment.

For this reason, he proposed to establish the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases is crucial and very urgent. Indonesia itself is ready to host the operation center.

At ASEAN – India Summit, Widodo believed that both can strengthen cooperation in various fields to face the various challenges that will face in the future. India can be a strategic partner for ASEAN in strengthening medical capacity in the region, especially for managing or dealing with pandemics at this time, such as increasing the capacity for the manufacture of drugs and vaccines, medicinal raw materials, to research and development in the health sector.

In addition, he said, the economic recovery requires us to expand trade. The Head of State believes that at the right time India can join a RCEP to jointly improve competitiveness and supply chains in the Indo – Pacific. He noted, “One of the efforts to raise people’ new hopes is economic integration in the region, including through the ASEAN – South Korea RCEP and FTA (free trade agreement).”

He continued, ASEAN and South Korea must work hard to ensure the global supply chain, including through expanding South Korean investment in Southeast Asia and strengthening ASEAN as Korea’ production base. He concluded, in the short term, the partnership between ASEAN and South Korea must ensure the availability of COVID-19 medicines and vaccines.

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