The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat recently launched a compilation of initiatives undertaken by the forum since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to advance the region’s economic recovery and build back better.
The initiatives range from high-level commitments such as ministers’ declarations and statements to expert analyses and recommendations, as well as innovative tools and practical projects. It was shared that these initiatives demonstrate member economies’ commitment and continued trust in ensuring that trade remains a critical tool to the region’s prosperity, according to an APEC Secretariat press statement.
APEC Secretariat Executive Director Dr Rebecca Sta Maria said, “APEC is responding with numerous policy measures and tools that address different pain points caused by the health and economic crisis. These measures show the importance of intensifying cooperation through a multilateral forum like APEC, because no economy can recover alone given how interconnected the region is.
“We have worked tirelessly in the past year and we must continue to progress our work especially in the area of vaccines and essential goods and services, structural reform and the resumption of safe and seamless cross-border travel.”
Launched on June 1, the compilation showcases ‘20 APEC COVID-19 Economic Response and Recovery Initiatives’ across six areas.
Under ‘Supporting Supply Chains for Essential Goods and Services’, initiatives include Declaration on Facilitating the Movement of Essential Goods by APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade; targetted analysis and training on supply chain resilience; and a statement by APEC ministers on COVID-19 and Food Security.
Another area ‘Securing Access to COVID-19 Vaccines and Medical Products’ has four initiatives listed: the joint statement on ‘Building a Resilient Asia-Pacific in a COVID-19 World’ by APEC health ministers; the ‘Best Practice Guidelines for APEC Customs Administrations to Facilitate the Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines and Related Goods’; the ‘APEC Supply Chain Security Toolkit for Medical Products and Track and Trace Webinar Series’; and a policy brief on ‘Promoting Trade in Medical Goods to Tackle COVID-19 Challenges’.
A third area is ‘Facilitating the Essential Movement of People’, featuring three initiatives: commitment by APEC ministers to explore ways to facilitate essential movement of people across borders; review of measures facilitating essential movement of people across borders; and a roundtable on safe passage.
Fourthly, under ‘Increasing Transparency for COVID-19 Response Measures’, initiatives include: commitment by APEC ministers to notify any trade COVID-19 response measures in accordance with World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations; training and new tools for notifying COVID-19 emergency measures to the WTO; and COVID-19 Latest and Immediate Virtual Exchange (LIVE).
Three initiatives are listed under ‘Analysis, Exchanges and Best Practices on COVID-19 Response and Recovery’: high-level exchanges on COVID-19 response and recovery measures and recommendations; COVID-19 emergency preparedness – information sharing on COVID-19 response measures; and analysis of COVID-19 impact and response measures in the region as well as expert recommendations.
The final area ‘Building Resilience and Inclusion in APEC Communities’ features four initiatives: the ministerial statement on ‘Advancing Women’s Economic Empowerment to Strengthen Post-Pandemic Recovery and Resilience’; the ministerial statement on ‘Navigating the New Normal: Restarting and Reviving MSMEs through Digitalisation, Innovation and Technology’; programmes supporting MSMEs, women, youth and others with untapped economic potential in the COVID-19 pandemic; and initiatives on using digital technology to support COVID-19 response and recovery.
APEC is a regional economic forum established in 1989 and has 21 members, including
APEC aims to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.