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COVID-19 a wake-up call for ASEAN to foster greater regional integration – CARI

COVID-19 a wake-up call for ASEAN to foster greater regional integration – CARI

Middle-powers
like the European Union (EU) and ASEAN should heed the lessons learned from
COVID-19 about the importance of continued relevance of global openness and
free trade, says the CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI).

CARI
chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid noted such points to be particularly pertinent
as countries struggle to return to pre-COVID-19 growth numbers while having to
respond to increasing public scepticism over the benefits of globalisation.

He
said the pandemic had exacerbated geo-economic tensions between great powers,
with regional blocs like the EU and ASEAN being increasingly pressured to
choose sides at the expense of their own internal cohesion.

“COVID-19
should ultimately serve as a wake-up call for ASEAN that greater regional
integration is not some faraway luxury to consider, but increasingly a
strategic necessity for a region that wants to preserve its economic vitality
and geostrategic independence.

“Notwithstanding,
our different internal dynamics and histories, the trade and institutional
experiences of the EU can impart lessons which ASEAN must pay attention to,” he
said during a CARI Briefings webinar titled ‘How Can ASEAN Bounce Back: An EU
Perspective’, today.

In
a statement, CARI said the session, which was moderated by Munir, also featured
Paolo R. Vergano, its senior fellow, and a partner at FratiniVergano – European
Lawyers, and key expert for trade facilitation in the ARISE Plus project of the
ASEAN Regional Integration Support by the EU.

Vergano
said contrary to recent narratives of the death of globalisation, the response
to COVID-19 by many countries was a combination of both restricting certain
trade while maintaining or facilitating others.

He
said while public lockdowns and travel restrictions had inevitably caused
downward pressures on international trade, maintaining free and open trade was
vital for both ASEAN and EU economies to remain afloat and ensure continued
access to essential goods.

“For
both blocs, preserving supply chain connectivity (particularly internally) has
been identified by both ASEAN and the EU as key goals in their larger response
to COVID-19,” he said.

Source: Bernama 

Posted on : 26 June 2020
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