Indonesia is encouraging close cooperation between ASEAN and Italy to bring about sustainable development, particularly to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and benefit from the post-pandemic cooperation potential. Indonesian Ambassador to Italy, Esti Andayani, made the remarks during a webinar on 'Italy-ASEAN Partnership for Development: A Look at Sustainable Development' on Wednesday.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the world aware of the importance of cooperation and of the fact that "no country should be left behind”, said Andayani, who is also chief of the ASEAN Committee in Rome (ACR). "It is important for us to prioritize multilateralism and international cooperation, including strengthening of cooperation in sustainable development by paying attention to social, economic, and environmental dimensions," she said in a written statement that was released by the Indonesian embassy on Thursday.
One such area of cooperation is the development of the digital economy, which is important for empowering micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs), the ambassador pointed out. The MSME sector has become one of the important pillars during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the recovery phase, she added. "During the lockdown, restrictions on mobility in this new normal, e-commerce plays a pivotal role," Andayani said.
Quoting the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report, the ambassador said e-commerce contributed 17 percent to global retail trade in 2020. In this regard, ASEAN is one of the biggest digital economic ecosystems in the world, she pointed out. The region has 12 unicorn startups, each of which has a market valuation of more than US$1 billion, she added."ASEAN and Italy have many potentials to cooperate in sustainable development to achieve common interests," she said. The seminar was held by Centro Studi Internazionali (CeSI), the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy International Cooperation, and ACR.
The seminar also featured Brunei Darussalam Ambassador to Italy, based in France, Datin Malai Hajah Yussof, members of the ACR Working Group, representatives of research institutes from ASEAN member countries and Italy, such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Indonesia, Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia, Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), Institute for Development Studies (Vietnam), and Asian Vision (Cambodia). (INE)