He delivered the remarks in his opening speech at the 25th ASEAN-China Summit at Sokha Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Friday.
“The first thing that we have to tackle is food security. With a population of more than two billion, ensuring food availability and accessibility is a formidable task for ASEAN and China. Regional food security is a main priority,” he said, according to a written statement received in Jakarta.
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The region is still susceptible to disruptions of food supplies, he said.
For instance, ASEAN, which is one of the biggest wheat and soybean consumers in the world, has spent at least US$61 billion on importing food, he pointed out.
“I see China has great capacity (to) strengthen food security strategy. We must cooperate in securing supply chains and stabilizing food prices. I hope ASEAN and China will collaborate on ensuring food reserves and the food emergency mechanism in the region, developing food production in the region, and investing in agricultural innovations,” Widodo said.
He also stressed the importance of maintaining regional financial stability given that the threat of recession poses a great common challenge. Therefore, both sides should respond to the difficult situation by fostering cooperation.
“Policy coordination is important. Through policy synergy, we can ensure the most effective step to prevent recession and get early warning and liquidity support,” he explained.
He further highlighted the significance of encouraging peace and maintaining regional stability. As a large country in the region, China must take responsibility for creating a conducive situation.
This can be achieved by building strategic confidence and respecting international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.
“The two matters must serve as our reference for managing rivalry in the region and resolving the South China Sea issue. If we build this, we will be able to create the Indo-Pacific as an epicenter of growth,” Widodo stressed.
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