President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. joined other leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Friday in issuing a Joint Statement agreeing on efforts promoting peace and security, addressing climate change and labor mobility issues, promoting free trade and supporting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

The President is in Saudi Arabia for the first ASEAN-GCC Summit in Riyadh.

Among those agreed upon by the leaders are recognizing the importance of oceans and seas as the key factors in driving growth and prosperity of the region and reaffirm the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and overflight in the region, and other lawful uses of the seas and unimpeded lawful maritime commerce.

They also want the promotion of peaceful resolutions of disputes, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the relevant standards and recommended practices by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The Joint Statement also called for cooperation on preventing and combating transnational crime, cybercrime, counterterrorism and extremism, as well as the enhanced trade and investment flows, by creating mutually beneficial opportunities for joint investments, consistent with the ASEAN-GCC Framework of Cooperation, with special emphasis on sustainable infrastructure, renewables, petrochemicals, agriculture, manufacturing, health care, tourism, logistics, smart cities, connectivity and digitalization.

It also declared as a priority the promotion of trade and investment relations between the ASEAN and GCC, by enhancing public-private sector engagement and business-to-business relations between both regions, using available and new physical and online platforms, trade missions, exhibitions, seminars, conferences, and dialogues.

The two regional blocs will also explore cooperation on key economic partnership priorities such as strengthening regional market integration; sustainability and decarbonization; digital transformation and inclusivity, including MSMEs, public-private sector engagement, and people-to-people ties.

The statement also reaffirmed the positive contributions of Southeast Asian manpower in building the GCC region’s sustainable economic growth and development and encouraged collaboration to promote orderly, safe, regular, and responsible labor mobility, while strengthening cooperation to combat trafficking in persons.

The ASEAN and GCC will also explore cooperation and information sharing on Information Communications Technology (ICT), especially in digital innovation, cybersecurity, data governance and cross-border data flows.

There will be strong cooperation for the protection of children’s rights and welfare through networking and exchange of policies, knowledge and best practices, and encourage collaboration in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment to eliminate all forms of violence against women, promote women economic empowerment, as well as women in peace and security agenda.

The leaders also declared support for the empowerment of persons with disabilities and older persons and encouraged collaboration in building strong and sustainable recovery towards enhanced prevention, preparedness, detection and response initiatives for all health hazards and threats including effectively addressing emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, zoonotic diseases, health impacts of climate change.

With regard to climate change, the Joint Statement stressed the importance and urgency of promoting joint action including through the ASEAN Centre for Climate Change and similar GCC entities in mitigating climate change and adapting to its impacts, protecting the environment and developing low carbon and clean energy technologies, such as renewables, energy efficiency and conservation, carbon abatement and removal technologies.

The leaders commended the ASEAN and the GCC countries for expressing commitment at COP27 and called for an active participation at COP28, aimed at the implementation of previous commitments and affirm the importance of underlying principles of the climate agreements.

They also expressed support for the United Arab Emirates’ hosting COP 28 this December, and called for an ambitious and inclusive outcome and reaffirmed commitment to the Paris Agreement, stressing the importance of successfully concluding the first Global Stocktake.  |PND