APEC member economies agreed on a set of principles to advance interoperability of vaccination certificates in the region in a bid to accelerate the safe resumption of travel and boost the travel and tourism sectors.
Trade ministers welcomed the Voluntary Principles for the Interoperability of Vaccination Certificates in the APEC Region during their meeting in Bangkok on 21 to 22 May.
“The fundamental purpose of the principles is to support the safe reopening of travel in the APEC region and to avoid the risk that differences in the format of vaccination certificates carried by travelers becomes an unnecessary handbrake on that reopening,” explained Matthew Bannon, the convenor of APEC’s Business Mobility Group, which endorsed the principles.
“The principles acknowledge that there are a range of formats and approaches to vaccination certificates and that consolidation around a single format is not practical in the short or medium term,” he added. “Instead, getting these different systems to be accepted, recognized, and where possible, talk to each other should be the primary focus.”
The voluntary principles encourage members to recognize vaccination certificates issued by other APEC economies as proof of an individual’s COVID-19 inoculation for international border entry and within borders.
Recognizing that extensive immunization against COVID-19 is a global public good and a means to support the resumption of cross-border travel, the principles complement and add momentum to the existing work and recommended protocols being developed by other relevant international organizations.
The principles encourage member economies to practice pragmatism and flexibility in accepting vaccination certificates in various formats, for example, both digital and non-digital formats, paper and non-digitally verifiable proofs of vaccination, as well as certificates that use a different encryption method or signing process.
The principles also recommend that members make public their regulations, procedures and requirements regarding proof of vaccination to help foster confidence, as well as support information sharing and build capability among APEC economies.
“Safe passage continues to be a critical issue for our region as we gradually and very cautiously emerge from the pandemic,” said Cherdchai Chaivaivid, Thailand’s senior official and the chair of the APEC Safe Passage Taskforce. “Facilitating interoperability of vaccination certificates in the region will support our effort to safely resume international travel in a way that is non-discriminatory and inclusive.”
The taskforce was established to coordinate APEC’s efforts in reopening cross-border travel safely and seamlessly. The principles were presented at the Safe Passage Taskforce Meeting in May and were welcomed by APEC Ministers.
“Restarting cross-border travel will greatly support our economic recovery, and at the same time, reemphasize APEC’s relevance and responsiveness in the midst of the ever-changing global landscape,” Cherdchai concluded. “The world is looking to APEC for a clear picture on how we go about resuming safe travel in our region.”
To read more about the Voluntary Principles for the Interoperability of Vaccination Certificates in the APEC Region, visit this page.
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