The Jakarta Post
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is set to virtually attend the 37th ASEAN Summit hosted by Vietnam on Thursday as Indonesia looks to recover its coronavirus-battered economy by initiating travel corridors.
Jokowi will attend five conferences on the first day of the summit: the plenary meeting, the 23rd ASEAN-China Summit, the 21st ASEAN-South Korea Summit, the 23rd ASEAN-Japan Summit and the 17th ASEAN-India Summit.
This year's summit is being attended by 10 ASEAN country leaders and eight ASEAN partner country leaders. It will oversee 17 meeting sessions, mainly focusing on joint measures for 2021, particularly regarding vaccine availability and production for the region.
The summit will also focus on regional economic development priorities with partner countries to cushion the economic and social impacts of COVID-19.
Indonesia is set to raise the issue of the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement during the summit to ease business travel while still implementing health protocols in a bid to reconnect the region and recover its economy, according to a press release issued by the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday.
"The summit is important to unify measures and attain future commitment from leaders of ASEAN partner countries to mitigate the pandemic in a more structured way, aligned with the necessary deadlines so as to not further the impacts of the pandemic, which have grown even more complex in the world and region," Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said in a statement published on the ministry's website.
The COVID-19 crisis has hit Indonesia hard, as Southeast Asia's largest economy officially enters its first recession since the 1998 Asian financial crisis after its economy contracted again in the third quarter at 3.49 percent.
In October, Jakarta established a travel corridor with Singapore to facilitate urgent diplomatic missions and essential business trips, dubbed the Reciprocal Green Lane arrangement.
Retno will attend the summit alongside Jokowi, State Secretary Pratikno and Indonesia's permanent representative to ASEAN, Ade Padmo Sarwono. (ars)