ASEAN Bloc Fights Impulse to hoard medical supplies

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As the Asean states deploy all possible instruments to fight the pandemic, More than half the nations in the region have reached out to Vietnam for donations of protective personal equipment (PPE), such as medical suits and masks. A sign that the region is fighting the impulse to hoard shipment of medical supplies out of their borders.

Vietnam has donated supplies mainly virus test kits to the members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations which in turn said that they would cooperate to prevent blockages, such as the ban on medical exports that some members implemented as the pandemic emerged.

“ASEAN should collaborate to keep trading routes and supply lines open, especially for essential goods, such as food and medical supplies,” Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in video call last month.

Malaysia is this year’s chair of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation bloc. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin urged the region to protect critical infrastructure for trade and guard against unnecessary restriction on the flow of medical, food and other essential supplies.

Ensuring adequate supplies means that it also “save lives” as nurses in the region won’t have to worry about lack of protection from the coronavirus.

“Ensuring that trade policy is in place, providing access to the much-needed medical goods will save lives,” former Malaysian trade official and APEC Secretariat executive director Dr. Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria said in a statement. The ASEAN bloc has been able to roll back some of the restrictions such as hand sanitizer and masks to help combat the spread of the virus.

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