On 14 April 2020, H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.), Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, attended the Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19 via video conference. The Summit was chaired by H.E. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Socialist Republic of Viet Nam as the ASEAN Chair in 2020.
The Leaders of the 10 ASEAN Member States discussed the situation and measures undertaken to address the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19 in their respective countries. They reaffirmed their determination and commitment to intensify concrete cooperation within ASEAN and with ASEAN’s external partners in responding to COVID-19 in an effective and timely manner, including through exchanging information and best practices, promoting the use of technology in addressing the pandemic, enhancing the effectiveness of public communication and countering fake news, supporting the development of regional reserves of medical supplies, strengthening existing relevant regional mechanisms and centres, preserving regional economic integration, logistics and supply chain, especially the flow of essential goods and services, medicines and medical equipment, as well as providing assistance to ASEAN nationals in ASEAN Member States and third countries. In addition, the Summit stressed the importance of a post-pandemic recovery plan and strengthening ASEAN’s capacities in responding to future public health emergencies effectively.
The Summit also supported Thailand’s proposal to establish a “COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund” to procure medical supplies and equipment for ASEAN Member States and support research and development of medicines and vaccines. To showcase ASEAN’s concrete cooperation in this regard, the Prime Minister of Thailand offered 10,000 RT-PCR test kits to each ASEAN Member State. These test kits are locally produced in Thailand through the cooperation between the Government, the private sector and universities. The Prime Minister of Thailand also underlined the importance of ASEAN’s multi-stakeholder cooperation in resolving this crisis in a holistic manner, the wider use of innovation and technologies, digital economy and e-commerce in support of COVID-19 response efforts and mitigating the economic impact, especially to MSMEs, as well as the promotion of digital payment connectivity and the use of interoperable QR code. Furthermore, the Prime Minister of Thailand suggested that the Sufficient Economy Philosophy can be an alternative approach to help ASEAN build our self-immunity and self-reliance to be better prepare for future challenges that may threaten ASEAN. The Prime Minister of Thailand also believed that this crisis should not lead to the retreat of globalisation but instead should augment regional and international cooperation to address global challenges. At the end of the Meeting, the Leaders adopted the Declaration of the Special ASEAN Summit on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).