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ASEAN needs to come together on COVID-19 pandemic

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By Dr. Nehginpao Kipgen and Aakriti Bansal

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus poses a significant threat to Southeast Asia and its regional bloc, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This is primarily due to the region's geographical proximity to China and the high trade flow between them.

ASEAN has not faced anything like COVID-19 in the recent past. As of May 18, the total number of cases reported by ASEAN stood at 69,836. Consequently, the massive scale of the outbreak has brought about the need for the regional bloc to act firmly as the international system has left every country to fend for itself. The optimal way for ASEAN to deal with the pandemic is to stand united and come together as a region.

It is important to study the impact of COVID-19 in ASEAN for two important reasons.

First, ASEAN has a huge impact on global economy and trade. Given the importance of China and the United States to ASEAN, and with both countries being affected badly and China's proximity to South Asia, ASEAN should not be ignored.

Another reason is that South Asia's regional bloc, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has often struggled when it comes to the concept of unity and regional integration because of the various differences of approach among its member states. ASEAN on the other hand manages to flourish because of the principles that drive the region's integration.

Almost all the ASEAN countries are now dealing with the third stage of the virus, which is the community transmission stage. One of the worst-hit countries among the member states is Singapore. The country has reported 28,343 cases of coronavirus with 22 deaths,........

© The Korea Times