The OAA project is one of the largest initiatives of its kind in the ASEAN region. The objective was to gather feedback from “the ground” and the private sector to understand key areas of concerns resulting from the pandemic to form key priority areas and recommendations to ASEAN Ministers and Leaders.
The report consists of recommendations covering immediate and longer-term proposed measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic proposed by over 30 business councils, industry groups and partners from all ten ASEAN member states, dialogue partner countries and regions including China, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, EU, US, Canada and Russia.
The exercise named as Outline for ASEAN Action (OAA) yielded over 200 policy recommendations that form the basis of ASEAN BAC’s input to the ASEAN Economic Ministers (presented on 4th June 2020 at the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting) and ASEAN Leaders in the recent 36th ASEAN Summit.
The report sets out key measures that are in the spirit of, and in line with the intentions of the Hanoi Plan of Action published on 19 June 2020, and endorsed by the ASEAN Leaders during their 36th ASEAN Summit on 26th June.
CHAPTER 1: IMMEDIATE TERM PROPOSED MEASURES
As ASEAN gradually opens up its economies, full-scale reopening of borders and economic activities remain a moving target. With the risk of an increase in the level of infection remains, it is therefore critical for businesses to protect their workforce while operations recommence. From the production side, the same applies to the consumer side where a safe environment for transactions can take place so trust and confidence are restored to get economies going again in as safe an environment as possible whilst minimizing the impact on economic activity while restoring consumer confidence.
The private sector has identified gaps and proposed recommendations in the following areas requiring urgent attention in the near term:
- Exponential increase in mass testing capacity
- Contact tracing
- Ensuring uninterrupted supply chain for essential goods and services during the pandemic
- Preparing groundwork for affordable access and equitable distribution of vaccines
- Creating economic safety nets for MSMEs and employees
- Creation of the ASEAN Pandemic Recovery Fund
- Expedite finalisation and ratification of RCEP in 2020 (with or without India)
CHAPTER 2: LONGER TERM PROPOSED MEASURES
The recommendations in section 2 are aimed at strengthening ASEAN competitiveness, accelerating economic recovery across the region, and placing ASEAN in a better and stronger position to recover from and weather any future pandemic or natural disaster events that could severely impact on the economy of the region.
The private sector has identified critical areas where support is required by the businesses sectors and provided recommendations for action:
- Dealing with the current pandemic crisis
- Future epidemic and pandemic preparedness
- Removal and minimising non-tariff-barriers to show genuine political will and leadership
- Customs automation and streamlining
- Private sector consultation
- Economic reopening
- Sectoral support
- Embracing Industry 4.0