Duterte: ASEAN must remain open for trade as coronavirus pandemic persists

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 14 2020 02:29 PM

Duterte: ASEAN must remain open for trade as coronavirus pandemic persists 1
President Rodrigo Duterte gives his intervention as he joins other leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries during the special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19 video conference at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 14, 2020. Presidential Photo

MANILA - Trade in Southeast Asia should remain open, President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday as the region's leaders discussed how to combat the coronavirus pandemic in a special video conference.

Duterte said trade among member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should be maintained despite the pandemic as no country can survive on its own.

"ASEAN must remain open for trade. Crisis or no crisis, as no country can stand alone," the President said in his intervention during the video conference.

"Let us, therefore, ensure the supply chain connectivity and the smooth flow of goods within our region," he added.

Among items that should be prioritized for trade within Southeast Asia are medical gear and medicine needed to address the pandemic, Duterte said.

"We face a shortage of vital medicines and medical equipment and supplies. We need to boost production and facilitate intra-ASEAN trade of these life-saving necessities," he said.

"Retreating from the regional and global connections cannot be the answer. To effectively overcome the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASEAN must collaborate and coordinate within our region and beyond," he said.

Duterte also conveyed the Philippines gratitude to neighboring countries that have lent a hand in the country's pandemic response, particularly Brunei, and Singapore.

The Philippines has the most number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia as of Monday, data from the ABS-CBN Data Analytics team showed.

Duterte: ASEAN must remain open for trade as coronavirus pandemic persists 2

The country has recorded 4,932 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Monday. Of that number, 242 have recovered and 315 have died.

Vietnam earlier said ASEAN's 36th summit was rescheduled from April to the end of June due to worries about the spread of COVID-19.

-with a report from Reuters