Natural disasters, in particular in the APEC region, have had a devastating impact on our people and economies. They can have adverse ramifications on other economies by disrupting production, trade and the supply chain, and overall become a major obstacle to Asia-Pacific’s resilience.

The APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Disaster Resiliency, meeting in Honolulu in November 2011, recognized the importance of the supply chain and related infrastructure in the delivery of goods and services following a disaster. To this end, we recognized that a timely delivery of international support, including the rapid deployment and acceptance of assistance personnel and supplies, will save lives in the immediate aftermath of disasters, and subsequently assist the supply chain rehabilitation, business resumption, and economic recovery.

The APEC report on the Stocktaking Study of Emergency Response Travel Facilitation for Personnel, Goods and Equipment in Times of Crisis confirms the importance and urgency of cross-border movement of international responders and their personal equipment in assisting at the initial stages of recovery in the aftermath of a large-scale disaster.

Considering the different circumstances of the APEC member economies, we recognized the following best practices and recommendations from the wide survey that are provided in the aforementioned stock take report:

  1. To encourage review and self-assessment of domestic policies and procedures with regard to providing and hosting international relief assistance.
  2. Update and improve—within individual economies—current domestic legislation to align with new domestic and global realities, and with the international framework proposed by institutions such as International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, United Nations, APEC and ASEAN.

  3. Intensify partnerships among government organizations, businesses, and local communities for exploring scenarios of relief coordination and recovery, with business continuity and economic and social development as the end goal.

  4. To promote the establishment of a virtual information network to support and promote weather prediction, disaster monitoring, loss and needs assessment, as well as, bilateral, regional and international arrangements on entry facilitation for foreign personnel, volunteers, special goods and equipment. These would help enhance efficiency and effectiveness of international relief assistance.

  5. To engage in regular training, workshops and exercises on topics focused on entry facilitation of international responders, goods, and equipment.

  6. To explore the extent and application experience of the APEC Business Travel Card to which it could be appropriately used by those responding in an emergency to assist with business continuity.

Against this backdrop, we instruct Senior Officials to carry the initiative forward by developing a Workplan on ERTF as a living document that consists of activities and efforts to facilitate the movement of international responders in times of disaster. We also instruct Senior Officials to include ERTF as a continuing agenda of discussion at the Emergency Preparedness Working Group in collaboration with the Business Mobility Group (BMG), and Sub-Committee on Customs and Procedures (SCCP).

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