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KUALA LUMPUR, Mei 5 -- The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible for Trade have reaffirmed the importance of collaboration at all levels and across the region to hasten fight against COVID-19 and committed to work closely to defeat the pandemic with urgency.
Hence, they have pledged to facilitate the flow of essential goods and services needed to fight the pandemic, including medicines, medical supplies and equipment, agriculture and food products, and other supplies across borders, and minimise disruptions to the global supply chains.
"We will also ensure that trading links remain open and explore ways to facilitate essential movement of people across borders, without undermining the efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. We will work closely to identify and resolve any unnecessary barriers to trade," they said in a joint statement today.
They acknowledged that it may be necessary for economies to implement emergency measures designed to address COVID-19 challenges, which should be targeted, proportionate, transparent and temporary, while not creating unnecessary barriers to trade, and remaining consistent with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
"We are also aware of the vulnerability of our communities to the current economic slowdown, hence, we recognise the need to notify any such measures in line with existing WTO rules and encourage economies to act swiftly in providing timely and affordable access to essential healthcare services, and implement measures to further enhance the resilience, scalability and sustainability of our healthcare system," they said.
The APEC trade ministers said they have directed their senior officials to develop a coordinated approach to collecting and sharing information on policies and measures, including stimulus packages for the immediate responses to the economic crisis and long-term recovery packages, which could help respond to the economic challenges emanated from the pandemic.
They said these efforts should take into account recommendations from the APEC Business Advisory Council, as this sharing of information seeks to ensure that the strength and learning of one economy may translate into best practices for the region as a whole.
"We recognise the importance of coordinating with our partners and counterparts in the international community, as well as with the private sector and academia, whose knowledge, nimbleness, experience and resourcefulness are vital to addressing this pandemic in a dynamic, innovative and timely manner.
"We acknowledge the importance of strengthening regional connectivity by intensifying our efforts to make global supply chains more resilient and less vulnerable to shocks, to advance sustainable economic growth," the APEC trade ministers said.
In addition, they said both individually and collectively, APEC member states should harness the opportunities of the digital economy and technologies, through utilisation of smart working solutions that enable seamless international business and cross border trade, as they are essential to alleviate the wide-range impact of the pandemic and further advance economic growth in the future.
"Therefore, we will strengthen APEC’s digital agenda, including electronic commerce and related services, with fresh perspectives and innovative means to navigate these new realities together," they said.
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