Asean economic ministers propose common digital vaccine certificate

Datuk Seri Azmin Ali

KUALA LUMPUR: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) economic ministers has proposed a common digital vaccine certificate to speed up the reopening of hardest-hit sectors such as tourism, Senior Minister cum International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said.

However, he said that there was no specific timeline set when the common digital vaccine certificate would be introduced, as the matter would be brought up to the health ministers level meeting.

“This is a new proposal, I was informed (about it) by Brunei as chairman.

“There is no timeline imposed on this particular proposal, but I believe if it can be finalised in the near future, it will definitely help facilitate movements among Asean members,” he said after the 27th Asean Economic Ministers Retreat here Wednesday.

Mohamad Azmin said during the meeting, the Asean Economic Ministers also discussed the progress of the Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework implementation as the region’s recovery tool.

He said the ministers pledged to work intensively to explore all avenues to deepen and broaden regional integration in various areas of mutual interest that would contribute to the sustainability of livelihoods, as well as regional economic resilience in Asean and beyond.

The retreat also looked into the expansion of the list of essential goods under the memorandum of understanding on the Implementation of Non-Tariff Measures on Essential Goods under the Hanoi Plan of Action on Strengthening Asean Economic Cooperation and Supply Chain Connectivity in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic that was signed in November 2020.

“With regard to the proposed number of products being considered for the expanded list, I suggested that we should be realistic on the quantum as the current number is a little too ambitious.

“The ministers also concurred on the need to further deepen Asean’s participation in global value chains (GVCs) to boost intra-Asean trade and investment which would enable greater businesses and job opportunities, especially for Asean to build back regional resilience during this global reordering,” he said.

Being a major disruptor, Mohamad Azmin said the pandemic has also brought to light existing gaps in the GVCs resulting from unexpected extreme fluctuations in demand and supply of essential products.

On the possibility of getting India to reconsider joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Malaysia as the country coordinator for Asean-India economic relations would first discuss on the Asean-India Trade in Goods Agreement (Aitiga) Review.

“Aitiga has been implemented for 10 years and it is time for us to review some provisions. We are waiting for feedback from India, and once received, we will initiate a committee to review Aitiga.

“At the same time, I believe we will be able to persuade India to revisit and review the decision not to join RCEP taken last year,” Mohamad Azmin said.

On another note, he said Singapore has assured Malaysia that the suspension of the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) between both countries, which is causing much difficulty for businesses on both sides of the border, is temporary.

He said his Singapore counterpart, Chan Chun Sing said the RGL arrangement will resume once the Covid-19 situation improves, and the republic’s vaccination programme would also include Malaysians who are residing and working there. – Bernama