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APEC economies need to work more closely to tackle COVID-19 issues

APEC economies need to work more closely to tackle COVID-19 issues

17 Nov 2020

The current circumstances and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic require all 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to work together more closely to resolve barriers and push for free and open trade and investment in the region.

Rejecting allegations that the Bogor Goals were unsuccessful, APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) chair Datuk Rohana Mahmood said the previous Bogor Goals provided guidance for member economies in delivering economic progress and are important to each of the 21 economies.

“APEC deserves more credit than what it received, although it has non-binding principles, there is a summary of what we had achieved since the Bogor Goals were introduced in 1994, and since Bogor Goals will expire in less than a month, we need a new vision to make sure that the free, fair and open trade and investment in the region will continue,” she said at a press conference after the 4th ABAC meeting here, today.

She also hinted that the new vision and declaration by the APEC member economies would focus on the need to collaborate, cooperate and keep markets open as free trade and investment is crucial for the collective well-being of Asia Pacific.

“It would be along the same lines as the recently-concluded Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and ASEAN. APEC’s new vision will revolve around three pillars, namely trade and investment to get over COVID-19 and bring member economies to move forward, digitalisation, as well as sustainability and the inclusion of all economies,” she said.

Rohana said digitalisation would be a challenge for most economies, particularly in terms of infrastructure, affordability and accessibility.

“New Zealand will be hosting the APEC Summit in 2021 and the next host will have a tougher job of planning and drawing up the new agenda which is expected to be carried online,” she added.

Meanwhile, ABAC’s report this year to APEC economic leaders has highlighted the practical and pragmatic recommendation of tackling the immediate crisis and focusing on short and medium-term matters.

“Crisis response remains a pressing concern in many economies, and requires an ongoing focus on ensuring access to essential medical supplies and services, including a vaccine, keeping supply chains functioning, and avoiding fragmented policy approaches, including in the digital economy and the safe resumption of travel.

“These would serve to revive the business activities and market demand that would accelerate global economic recovery.

“We need to prioritise policies that are conducive to international trade, resist calls to undercut competitiveness with protectionist quick fixes, and ensure that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) remains relevant and fit-for-purpose,” she added.

The APEC Business Advisory Council met virtually today, in the lead up to the meeting of APEC Economic Leaders on November 20.

Source: Bernama

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