Post-Covid recovery, inflation expected to top agendas in upcoming ASEAN summits

Phnom Penh, Nov 1 (IANS) Post-Covid-19 pandemic recovery, rising global inflation and security issues are expected to be high on the agenda during the forthcoming 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits, officials said here on Tuesday.
The 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits and related event are due to be held from November 11 to 13 in Phnom Penh, reports Xinhua news agency.
Kao Kim Hourn, an official from the Prime Minister’s Office, said the summits will be strategically important, not only for Cambodia as the ASEAN chair for 2022, but also for the whole bloc as well as its dialogue partners.
Kim Hourn, who will take over the post of ASEAN secretary-general from January 2023, told Xinhua that post-pandemic economic recovery efforts, security issues such as the Russia-Ukraine war, the Korean Peninsula, rising global oil and food prices, and climate change, among others, will be discussed during the summits.
“This is a very critical time because Cambodia will be not just on the regional map, but also on the global map, as we steer and navigate all of these challenges,” he said.
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute of Cambodia, said the summits are crucial to sustaining and promoting multilateralism and laying the foundation and platform to address key challenges faced by the region and the world.
“The Covid-19 pandemic, food and energy insecurity, and power rivalries are key challenges among others faced by ASEAN currently and many years to come,” he told Xinhua.
Mey Kalyan, chairman of the Cambodia Development Resource Institute, said currently, the world is going through a rough period of turbulence, in all aspects that pose an existential threat to the human species, namely security, food, economy, energy, and climate change.
“Given this background, the forthcoming ASEAN summits are very timely and relevant. We do not have great expectations that many serious issues will be resolved at these meetings. However, what is urgently needed is that all prominent leaders must have wisdom and courage to meet and discuss the most pressing issues now,” he told Xinhua.
He said that it is vital for the leaders to discuss ways to boost post-pandemic economic recovery and to address security issues and high prices of foods and energy in order to ensure peace, security, stability, and common development for the region and the world at large.
Joseph Matthews, a senior professor at the BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh, believed that ASEAN leaders would also touch on the progress in the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade deal, which entered into force earlier this year.
“This mega-regional trade pact has been a key driving force for the region’s economic recovery in the post-pandemic era,” he told Xinhua.
ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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