The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic ministers started a five-day virtual summit on Tuesday to discuss cooperation within the bloc and with its partners amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Looking at the months or even years ahead, we need to discuss a fiscal recovery to break the way out of the crisis and lay foundation for a more developed and sustainable ASEAN economic community," said Vietnamese Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh, as he addressed the meeting via video conferencing.
During the meeting, the ministers are set to finalise the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement (FTA) between ASEAN and its partners including Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
Once signed, the agreement will become a major FTA with countries accounting for 30% global population and almost 30% of the world's GDP.
The meeting takes place as several ASEAN nations including Indonesia, the Philippines and this year's ASEAN chair Vietnam continue to fight the virus outbreak.
In Vietnam, the second wave of the outbreak re-emerged last month in the city of Da Nang and spreading to 10 other provinces with over 500 local cases and 27 deaths.
It has forced several cities to be placed under lockdown.