The member countries of the Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem), a bridge between Asia and Europe, have adopted a "save yourself, save others" policy to quickly heal the injuries caused by Covid-19.
Asem President and Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal revealed this information following the 14th Finance Ministers' Conference of the organisation held virtually on Friday. Bangladesh hosted this year's conference.
The conference discussed ways to deal with the virus quickly, highlighting the socio-economic damages caused by the pandemic in different countries, he said.
Bangladesh's economic situation is better but many countries are in a very bad condition. The longer it takes to control the novel coronavirus, the greater the damage will be. All countries will try to overcome this situation as soon as possible, the minister continued.
"Earlier, everyone used to try to save themselves only. This time we saw everyone's goal is one – save yourself, save others. Covid taught us that one must save others in order to save oneself. That was the main theme of this year's conference," said the Asem president.
However, Minister Kamal did not answer to the question whether the future export situation of Bangladesh could be ascertained from the statements of the finance ministers of the European countries at the conference.
Asked what kinds of initiative Bangladesh will take to deal with coronavirus, Kamal said, "Our policy is very flexible. We will do what we need to. If the vaccine comes to anywhere in the world, it will also come to Bangladesh.
"We will bring vaccines in proportion to our population. There will be no disparity in vaccine distributions. The prime minister [Sheikh Hasina] said the cost of vaccine should be borne by rich countries."
The 14th Asem conference discussed the necessity of a strong multilateral coordinated initiative to overcome the Covid situation and implement the global agenda, said a press release from the Ministry of Finance.
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on countries in Asia and Europe at all levels, including employment, income, business and investment, severely hampering the implementation of sustainable development goals. The finance ministers of different countries expressed concerns over the possible impacts of the second wave of infection, it also said.
At the conference, member states pledged to work together to strengthen cooperation in Asia-Europe relations, build effective partnerships and ensure strong, sustainable, inclusive and balanced economic restructuring, including tackling the coronavirus.
In addition to the finance ministers of 43 Asia-Europe countries, representatives from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, the Asean Secretariat and the Asian Development Bank also attended the conference.
Asem's next finance ministers' conference will be held in 2021 in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh.
Asem was formed in 1996 and Bangladesh joined the organisation in 2012. The economies of the Asem countries, which are home to about 60% of the world's population, account for 60% of the global economy. Asem accounts for 55% of world trade and 75% of tourism.