APEC Officials lay the Groundwork for Recovery and Resilience
Singapore, 24 July 2020
As the virus continues to spread even after months into the pandemic, senior officials from APEC’s member economies are advancing actions towards recovery, as mandated by the Ministers Responsible for Trade in their joint statement on COVID-19.
Convening through online video conferencing one day before the virtual extraordinary meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade, senior officials are deliberating on trade and investment initiatives, such as facilitating the trade of essential products including medicines, medical supplies and equipment.
“We have been instructed to work towards a healthy, resilient and inclusive Asia-Pacific community,” said Hairil Hairil Yahri Yaacob, Chair of the 2020 APEC Senior Officials, who led the discussion. He reinforced that the task will involve close participation not only between APEC economies, but with different sectors, such as the private sector.
This is the second virtual gathering of APEC senior officials this year, and is part of a cluster of virtual engagements among APEC groups and committees that are responsible for different sectors, such as disaster response and trade and investment. Each of these groups are exploring solutions in response to the pandemic from different angles.
“The innovative and dynamic nature of the Asia-Pacific business community will be crucial in laying the groundwork for the region’s economic recovery and resilience,” he said. “The recommendations of this sector, as represented by the APEC Business Advisory Council, will be relevant additions to the recommendations we will be presenting to our ministers.”
Reporting on the recommendation of the business sector, the 2020 Chair ABAC, Dato’ Rohana Mahmood, reiterates the importance of keeping markets, goods, services and investment open. “A global pandemic requires a coordinated global response,” she noted. “In a deeply integrated and interconnected world, it does not make sense for any economy to seek to be self-sufficient in the essential tools to fight the pandemic.”
“At this point during the crisis, multilateral coordination is more crucial than ever,” said Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat. “We are entering a period when decisions are to be made that will affect how economies will engage with each other to face challenges not only in the months ahead, but for years to come.”
Hairil noted that everything APEC will do from this point on will be framed by the COVID-19 crisis. But he added that many of the agendas and priorities the forum has been pursuing for the past few years leading to 2020 seem to have only gotten more relevant, such as adapting to digital technologies while ensuring economies are people-centered.
“We have been shown why it is so important to ensure that our economies have the ability to cushion even the poorest citizens and smallest businesses from economic fallout,” said Hairil. “The continuation of trade and cooperation can be a matter of survival as well as a means to achieving shared prosperity.”
APEC’s Ministers Responsible for Trade will hold a virtual meeting on Saturday, 25 July 2020, to follow up on recommendations and work plans submitted by senior officials and ABAC.
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