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Pooling tips on vaccine sourcing

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Prime Minister Hun Sen chairs the 9th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy Summit via video conference yesterday. KT/Khem Sovannara

Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on countries within the framework of the Ayeyarwaddy-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) to share their experiences on sourcing for COVID-19 vaccines.

His remark was made at the 9th ACMECS Summit under the theme “Partnership for Connectivity and Resilience” chaired by Cambodia. The leaders from Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam attended the meeting via video conference.

As of yesterday, Cambodia has recorded 354 cases of the coronavirus, including 38 cases involving the “November 28 community incident”.

Early this week, Mr Hun Sen directed the Health and Finance ministries to allocate money and purchase doses as the government has collected tens of  million dollars from donors to purchase the vaccine.

At the summit, Mr Hun Sen was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Prak Sokhonn, Minister of Agriculture Veng Sakhon, Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak, Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem, Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Post and Telecommunications Chea Vandeth, and Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng, as well as a number of senior government officials.

On the same day, the Prime Minister also participated in the 10th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV) Summit and the 11th Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam (CLV) Summit on Development Triangle Area, which were held back-to-back with the 9th ACMECS Summit, chaired by Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.

“In the short term, we should focus on preventing the spread of COVID-19, which poses a serious public health challenge, as well as a significant impact on the movement of our people and the global supply chain,” Mr Hun Sen said.

“In this sense, I believe that we need to address common challenges by ensuring adequate connectivity in public healthcare to ensure an adequate supply of medical equipment to the frontline medical officers and adequate medicine for our people,” he added.

He said countries should ensure that vaccines are affordable and delivered on time when they are officially launched.

“ACMECS should pro-actively work with the Development Partners in promoting the notion of Vaccine Multilateralism to ensure equitable and safe access to COVID-19 vaccines,” Mr Hun Sen said.

The ACMECS leaders speak via videoconference at the summit chaired by Cambodia. KT/Khem Sovannara

He encouraged ACMECS member countries to join Cambodia and Thailand in voluntarily pledging contributions to the ACMECS Development Fund, for which Cambodia is willing to commit $7 million to ensure the smooth implementation of all prioritised post-pandemic economic recovery projects.

Kao Kim Hourn, Minister Attached to the Prime Minister, said yesterday that Mr Hun Sen told ACMECS leaders that Cambodia plans to purchase one million doses of vaccine for the first phase and the next batch will be for vaccinating 10 million Cambodians.

Kim Hourn said ACMECS leaders also concluded the summit by adopting the “Phnom Penh Declaration of the 9th ACMECS Summit”, which has three documents as its annexes, namely: Terms of Reference of the ACMECS Development Fund; Concept Paper on Working Mechanism for ACMECS Coordinating Committees under ACMECS Master Plan (2019-2023); and List of ACMECS Prioritized Projects.

According to the outcome of the ACMECS summit released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ACMECS leaders commended Cambodia’s chairmanship over the past two years in advancing the shared goals of member countries in realising prosperity and wellbeing for the people.

“In combating COVID-19, the leaders agreed to reinforce ongoing national efforts and to strengthen cooperation within Asean-led mechanisms, with external partners and international organisations, especially the World Health Organization (WHO), to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines will become public goods and that essential medical services will be available, accessible, and affordable for all,” the statement said.

The regional leaders also underlined the importance of “effective and sustainable cooperation” among member countries and ACMECS Development Partners, for which Japan offered to host the ACMECS Special Summit in 2021 on the margin of the 13th Mekong-Japan Summit.

In his speech, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha recommended that ACMECS cooperation be based on multidimensional connectivity, the establishment of an ACMECS development fund, and the establishment of an ACMECS Secretariat, according to VNA.

He said multidimensional connectivity is key to the development of ACMECS, and stressed the importance of promoting the application of technology in cross-border trade and developing digital platforms for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to boost business capacity.

Kin Phea, director-general at the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relation Institute, said yesterday that the Kingdom has done a very great job in its two-year-rotating chairmanship of ACMECS and brought about significant achievements for this grouping.

“It’s important that all ACMECS countries share their experiences on sourcing for COVID-19 vaccines and collectively call for COVID-19 vaccines to be public goods that must be available, accessible, and affordable for all,” he said.

“The pandemic is a global common health challenge that requires joint and multilateral efforts and measures,” Phea added.

Additionally, while participating in the 10th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV) Summit under the Theme “Enhancing Effective Connectivity for Regional Integration” chaired by Laos, Mr Hun Sen said with the recent announcement of the successful trials of vaccines, CLMV should now be preparing for the post-COVID-19 recovery with great optimism.

“We can do so by enhancing our policy coordination to remove obstacles facing cross-border trade by ways of simplifying processes and procedures for customs clearance in border areas,” he said. “We need to ensure that the operation of our supply chains would remain fully operational by enhancing our transportation and logistics connectivity.”

The 10th CLMV summit adopted three documents, such as the Joint Statement on the 10th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Cooperation Summit, Framework for CLMV Development and List of CLMV Priority Projects.

In related news, Mr Hun Sen yesterday also called on Laos and Vietnam to continue collaboration in combating human and drug trafficking across the borders and to facilitate border crossing for travellers between the three nations.

His call was made yesterday when he participated in the 11th Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam (CLV) Summit on Development Triangle Area.

Mr Hun Sen said Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam need to also continue collaboration on transnational crime, forestry crime and taking part in mine clearance.

He said to achieve the Master Plan and the Action Plan that were set out to transform the CLV into a concrete development region, the Cambodian government has invested in its four provinces within the CLV-DTA area, proving a total of approximately $3.146 billion as of October this year.

Mr Hun Sen noted it has 86 projects, of which 66 in agriculture and agro-industry have created 126,679 job opportunities to the local people.

“As a result, the GDP of the four provinces has significantly increased, by 12 percent in 2020 compared to 2018. We are truly proud of this result,” he said.

During the 11th CLV Summit, the three countries also adopted the Joint Declaration of the 11th CLV Summit, Tourism Development Plan in the CLV-DTA, and The Development Plan for Sustainable Rubber Industry in the CLV-DTA.

The CLV leaders also committed to strengthening the CLV Development Triangle Area to accelerate economic growth, alleviate poverty and promote socio-cultural progress, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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