APEC Responds to Health and Economic Crisis, Pushes for Recovery
Singapore, 27 May 2020
APEC’s member economies will advance work to fast-track the revitalization of the region’s economy as mandated in the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade joint statement on COVID-19.
Senior officials convened virtually on Wednesday to respond to the crisis, identify remedial policy actions and carry out directions from APEC’s Trade Ministers, including keeping markets open and ensuring a smooth flow of essential goods and services.
“Despite the trying times that we presently face, the work in APEC must go on, by means of virtual meetings such as this one, or through other intersessional mechanisms. APEC’s broader work in areas such as trade and investment, business mobility, tourism, food security, sustainable development, customs procedures, standards setting and intellectual property rights will play a crucial role in our region’s recovery,” said Hairil Yahri Yaacob, Chair of the 2020 APEC Senior Officials.
Aware of the vulnerability of the region’s communities to the current economic slowdown, officials joined forces to speed up the development of a set of inclusive policies to accelerate recovery for exposed economic sectors, businesses and workers.
“This is a crucial juncture for APEC,” said Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat. “As we conclude the 2020 goal of free and open trade and investment, the new vision for APEC has to take into account the extraordinary situation we are going through today, which will definitely change the way we look at trade and investment and economic growth in the future.”
Earlier this month, the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) called on member economies to refrain from putting any trade-restrictive measures for the rest of this year to ensure access to food and other essential goods. Senior officials took into account the recommendations from ABAC.
Initiatives to facilitate the flow of essential goods, including the reduction of tariffs, were put forth for further deliberation by the senior officials. The proposal, if adopted, could see reduced tariffs on medical, food and agricultural products. According to the APEC Policy Support Unit, promoting trade in medical goods will save lives and strengthen members’ capacity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are facing an unprecedented challenge and we must adapt to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 crisis,” Hairil added. “If we continue to strengthen the spirit of cooperation between our economies, we will come out of this crisis better and more resilient.”
Intersessional work will continue among APEC Senior Officials, working groups and fora towards a healthy, resilient and inclusive Asia-Pacific community.
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