Australia, New Zealand pledge $669 mln to ASEAN

By Phan Anh   November 14, 2020 | 05:26 am PT
Australia, New Zealand pledge $669 mln to ASEAN
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan hosts online the second ASEAN-Australia Summit in Hanoi, November 14, 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Government Portal.
Australia and New Zealand have pledged over $669 million to ASEAN for Covid-19, disease response, economic cooperation and other initiatives, two online ASEAN summits heard Saturday.

At the 2nd ASEAN-Australia Summit, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc commended Australia for pledging AUD1 million ($727,000) for the ASEAN Covid-19 response fund and AUD60 million for regional economic integration, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.

Phuc also praised Australia for pledging AUD200,000 to support ASEAN women and girls post Covid-19 for the 2020-2021 period.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia has pledged AUD21 million for the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (AC-PHEED) and AUD70 million for increasing Southeast Asian countries' self-empowering capabilities in prioritized fields like maritime and economic cooperation.

He added Australia pledged AUD230 million for Mekong cooperation in fields like the environment, infrastructure and technology, saying they would serve as a foundation for a strong ASEAN.

Also at the meeting, ASEAN leaders commended Australia for aiding the body in maintaining health security, enhancing economic integration, developing infrastructure and increasing disease prevention capabilities, including the pledge of AUD500 million for Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific regions to have access to Covid-19 vaccines and to help them increase economic integration and recovery.

At another event, the ASEAN-New Zealand Summit to commemorate the two sides' 45-year relationship, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country has pledged $1 million for the ASEAN Covid-19 response fund, $12 million for supporting disease response efforts in the region, $10 million for supporting smart agriculture and climate change response, and $5 million to support activities of Mekong River Commission, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Both summits are part of the ongoing 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings, hosted online by Vietnam from November 12-15.

Earlier this week, Japan and South Korea pledged $57 million to ASEAN for Covid-19 and disease response.

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