Thailand Highlights Cooperation on COVID-19 Medicines and Vaccines

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Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, at the 17th ASEAN-India Summit via video conference, highlighted the need to strengthen ASEAN-India cooperation on the production and distribution of COVID-19 medicines and vaccines.The Prime Minister, in Thailand’s capacity as Country Coordinator for the ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations, delivered the ASEAN Common Statement at the summit on 12 November 2020.

In this statement, he highlighted the following issues: (1) cooperation in addressing COVID-19, particularly scientific research, development, production and distribution of anti-viral medicines and vaccines, as well as the repatriation of ASEAN and Indian nationals, (2) the need to build an environment of mutual trust and confidence in the region through cooperation based on principles and elements of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), (3) the full and effective utilization of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area (AIFTA) to achieve two-way trade target of USD 200 billion by 2022, (4) enhancing capacity-building for MSMEs, particularly in digital technology, (5) promoting regional connectivity through the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and its possible extension to Lao PDR, Cambodia and Viet Nam, and (6) supporting of education and cultural exchanges, as well as sustainable development cooperation through the ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue (ACSDSD) in Thailand.

The Meeting also emphasized the need to further advance and concretize the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership, while supporting ASEAN Centrality. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Leaders also stressed the need to prioritize ASEAN-India cooperation in addressing the adverse impact of COVID-19, including through public health cooperation, strengthening supply chain connectivity for essential goods, as well as promoting trade, investment and connectivity, to support the economic recovery in line with the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework. In this regard, the Indian Prime Minister also announced USD 1 million contribution to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund.

The Meeting adopted two outcome documents, namely (1) a study report on “The India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway and Its Possible Eastward Extension to Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Viet Nam: Challenges and Opportunities” prepared by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) as commissioned by India, and (2) Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity (2021-2025).