22 June 2021

The ASEAN Plus Three Senior Officials’ Meeting (APT SOM) was held on 22 June 2021 via videoconference and chaired by Emaleen Abd Rahman Teo, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Darussalam, and attended by Senior Officials from ASEAN Member States (AMS) and the Plus Three countries namely China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. 

ASEAN expressed appreciation to the Plus Three countries for the assistance provided to ASEAN in mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the provision of medical supplies and equipment as well as to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, which will be used to purchase vaccines for the peoples of ASEAN. The Meeting affirmed that recovery from the pandemic was a top priority.  Acknowledging that vaccines are critical to overcoming the pandemic, the Meeting agreed to also focus efforts on vaccine procurement and vaccine development with a view to ensure vaccine multilateralism, accessibility, and affordability.  The Meeting recognised the importance of addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on the mental health and well-being of the peoples and towards this end, welcomed Brunei Darussalam’s proposal for an APT Leaders’ Statement on Cooperation on Mental Health Among Adolescents and Young Children, which will call for collaborative initiatives including the sharing of best practices on mental health promotion in schools.  The Leaders’ Statement is expected to be adopted by the APT Summit in October 2021.

Noting that businesses, particularly Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), have been badly affected by the pandemic, the Meeting underscored the need to support their digitalisation efforts to ensure that they are able to reap the benefits of the digital transformation accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN was founded on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries; Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined ASEAN on 7 January 1984