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Ministers Unite on COVID-19 Vaccine Steps and Rejuvenating the WTO

Ministers Responsible for Trade Chair Wellington, New Zealand | 06 June 2021

APEC Trade Ministers today committed to speeding up the cross-border flow of vaccines and related goods to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

This followed the completion of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting chaired by New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor early this morning. 

“As we face the biggest health and economic crisis of our lifetimes, I was greatly heartened to see how we united to make progress,” Minister O’Connor said. “We represent half of global GDP and wanted to use trade as a force for good.  

“We know nobody is safe until everybody is safe from COVID-19, and we know that our region prospers economically by keeping our markets open to one another rather than closing ourselves off. APEC Trade Ministers today agreed to: 

  • “Act now to speed the flow of vaccines and vaccine-related goods by eliminating trade restrictions that increase the cost of vaccines and the goods that support them;
  • “A set of guidelines for their Customs authorities to ensure vaccines flow through ports and airports as quickly as possible so they are not sitting idle;
  • “Remove barriers to freight and logistics services that support trade in vaccines and vaccine-related goods to help fight the pandemic.”

“It is encouraging to see APEC Trade Ministers working together to respond in practical, concrete terms to the COVID pandemic and rebuild our economies,” he said. 

APEC Trade Ministers re-affirmed their commitment to the rules-based multilateral trading system by rejuvenating the World Trade Organization (WTO) and injecting momentum into a series of trade negotiations with the aim of concluding these by the end of this year. 

Just before the ministerial statement was agreed, Minister O’Connor announced the winner of the 2021 APEC App Challenge, OneQR from Australia, an app that aims to help people in the region consider safe and prudent options for travel when the time is right.

View the APEC Ministers Responsible for Joint Trade Statement 2021

View Annex 1: The APEC Statement on COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Chains

View Annex 2: The APEC Statement on Services to Support the Movement of Essential Goods

For further details, please contact:

Cas Carter +64 21 341 509 at [email protected] (in New Zealand)
Sidah Russell +64 21 359 235 at [email protected] (in New Zealand)
Masyitha Baziad +65 9751 2146 at [email protected]
Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 at [email protected]