11 July 2024

ASEAN has accumulated more than US$1.2 billion worth of combined assistance from 11 dialogue partners including the new dialogue partner, the UK. Almost all the countries have contributed special funds for ASEAN to prepare and respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to data collected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ ASEAN Department.

The EU was the most generous. Through its Team Europe, the EU provided US$941 million (800 million Euro) with an additional US$5 million coming from Germany and US$2 million from Italy. Both are also development partners of ASEAN. The ASEAN-EU relations will commemorate their 45th anniversary next year in Brussels.

In addition, the US gave a total of US$158 million to ASEAN members to fight the coronavirus. Last Wednesday when US State Secretary Antony Blinken held talks virtually with the ASEAN foreign ministers, the US contributed another US$500,000 to the Covid-19 Asean Response Fund.

China, Japan, South Korea, and India each contributed US$1 million to the fund while Australia and New Zealand each also gave 1 million dollars in their national currencies, which amounted to US$735,576 and US$701,000  respectively. Canada provided US$2.8 million (3.5 million Canadian dollars).

Among the ASEAN plus three partners, Japan came out on top with the allocation of US$50 million to fund the establishment of the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergency and Emerging Disease. Furthermore, Tokyo also provided US$18.1 dollar for the “Last One Mile” project that prepares the linkage of delivery and cold storage of vaccines through UNICEF. In early June, Japan donated 1.05 million doses of Astra Zeneca to Thailand.

China also has provided US$5 million to strengthen the capacity of ASEAN members to respond to the coronavirus. To date, China has provided 130 million doses to all ASEAN members, according to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Thailand also received 1 million Sinovac vaccines from China in two shipments in May and June.

Russia is the only dialogue partner which does not provide any data on the doses of vaccines donated.

As a new dialogue partner, the UK made a strong impression on ASEAN with the contribution of US$69.4 million (50-million pounds) to respond to the pandemic. This includes US$10.4 million (7.5 million pounds) for the Covid-19 ASEAN Response Fund.

The UK also expressed strong support for ASEAN centrality. As part of the long-term cooperation, the UK will beef up cooperation in maritime security, law enforcement, and climate change.

On August 2, the UK donated 415,040 doses of Astra Zeneca to Thailand. For the past months, due to the recent surge of infections, the demand for vaccines has been overwhelming.

Due to the growing Covid-19 crisis in Myanmar, the ASEAN chair and ASEAN Secretariat are planning to hold an international donor conference to raise funds for humanitarian assistance in days to come.