The Jakarta Post
Indonesia has proposed the establishment of a travel corridor between ASEAN member states to increase the region’s connectivity and facilitate economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the 36th ASEAN Summit plenary session on Friday, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said enabling good connectivity within the region was key to its economic recovery.
“I acknowledge that several countries, including Indonesia, have begun discussions with fellow ASEAN countries or other countries about travel corridors. However, it is time for the community to think about creating an ASEAN travel corridor,” the President said during the session.
“The arrangement of a travel corridor must be carried out carefully and gradually, starting from allowing essential business travel while implementing strict health protocols,” Jokowi added.
Jokowi claimed the travel corridor would demonstrate ASEAN’s strategic value to the world, adding that the region should also facilitate digital connectivity through e-commerce, e-health and e-learning.
The President highlighted several economic issues in the region and noted that the bloc had built a solid foundation to cushion the impact of the health crisis and the prevailing geopolitical situation.
He urged ASEAN member states to accelerate the economic recovery in the region, following a recent forecast by the International Monetary Fund that revised the world’s 2020 economic growth projection from negative 3 percent to negative 4.9 percent. Such a contraction would be the worst since the Great Depression.
Jokowi said the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year would safeguard the region’s economy.
“The RCEP will be our new strength and hope for economic recovery in the region after the pandemic,” he said.
This year, ASEAN member states attended the two-hour summit virtually because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The ASEAN states agreed to two documents, namely the Leaders’ Vision Statement on a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN and the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work.
“The vision statement mainly discusses the leaders’ commitments to strengthen solidarity and regional mechanisms to realize the goal of making ASEAN a stronger regional cooperative body,” said Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in a press briefing at the State Palace on Friday.
The document on human resources development highlighted the need for ASEAN to develop a workforce that was ready to face the rapidly changing world, the minister added.