Senior Officials Press Bold Trade Agenda Ahead of Ministers’ Meeting
Wellington, New Zealand, 04 June 2021
Senior officials from 21 APEC members discussed a range of proposals for bold and concrete trade initiatives on vaccines and related goods and services, structural reforms, digital innovation as well as inclusion and sustainability as part of the preparations for the New Zealand-hosted 2021 APEC Ministers’ Responsible for Trade Meeting on 5 June.
“There was a clear and strong sense among senior officials that APEC should be responsive to the crisis and find practical ways to support recovery through trade and that our work should complement and support the work of the World Trade Organization,” said Vangelis Vitalis, the 2021 New Zealand Chair of APEC Senior Officials.
Senior officials are encouraged by the strong progress that has been made this year to implement the 2020 Ministers’ Responsible for Trade Declaration on Facilitating the Movement of Essential Goods, including work on vaccines, related goods and services and pushed for high-level commitment ahead of the Ministers’ meeting on Saturday.
According to a recent report, eliminating tariffs on vaccines and related goods and easing export restrictions will help speed up vaccine distribution and production, which will result in wider availability and affordability and contribute to a healthier recovery.
At the two-day meeting, Chair of APEC Business Advisory Council, Rachel Taulelei, briefed senior officials by reiterating the need to ensure open and unrestricted trade in vaccines and associated goods and services “as there is no solution to this crisis unless as many as possible are vaccinated.” She added that widespread vaccination is a prerequisite for the safe reopening of borders, which is critical to economic recovery.
Senior officials agreed to continue consultations on the resumption of safe and seamless cross-border travel, noting that border restrictions, while necessary to protect populations from COVID-19, are having a significant economic impact.
“Member economies are united in supporting the region’s micro, small and medium enterprises, women and others with untapped potential, given the disproportionate impact of the pandemic to these groups,” Vitalis added. “APEC is also progressing work on trade and sustainability issues, including the indigenous economy – a New Zealand priority.”
Member economies continue to consider further work on the environmental goods and services initiative, as well as carrying on the work for building APEC’s capacity to address harmful subsidies, such as those on fisheries, as part of implementing the APEC Roadmap on Combatting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.
A New Zealand priority is to increase the emphasis on inclusion and sustainability policies to help drive the recovery, including through structural reform, in particular by stimulating growth, removing undue burdens on investors and traders. The 2021 APEC Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting is scheduled to be held virtually on 16 June with a focus on promoting macro-economic and structural policy responses to the pandemic.
APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade is set to meet this Saturday, 5 June. The meeting will focus on trade’s vital role in combatting the pandemic and preparing for and driving the recovery. A media conference will be held before the meeting starts.
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