KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 -- The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) has proposed the establishment of a temporary APEC coordination body as soon as possible to provide guidance for the orderly reopening of borders and development of COVID-19 quarantine protocols.
In a statement today, ABAC said the body would collaborate, share information and evaluate available data against agreed criteria, that would enable all APEC economies to assess when and how to open borders and fully reconnect with other economies as safely as possible.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of a robust digital connectivity to promote economic participation and drive inclusive growth.
"And APEC economies should foster the development of more secure, accessible and affordable digital infrastructure for all and of free and secure flows of data across borders," it said.
According to ABAC, there should also be a commitment to sharing research findings and vaccine solutions on a free and open basis, while trade needs to play a central role in economic recovery.
"APEC economies must work collaboratively to plan for the re-opening of borders," it said.
Meanwhile, it said business leaders from the Asia-Pacific were set to present the ABAC COVID-19 Report to APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT).
The report contains the council’s recommendations to respond to the immediate impacts of the pandemic, and lay the groundwork for economic recovery and build resilience in the region.
APEC MRT are scheduled to meet virtually tomorrow (July 25) to discuss on addressing the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and navigate the region towards a path of hastened recovery.
To respond to the immediate impact of the pandemic, ABAC chair Datuk Rohana Tan Sri Mahmood underscored the need to keep markets for goods, services and investment open.
“A global pandemic requires a coordinated global response. In a deeply integrated and interconnected world, it does not make sense for any economy to seek to be self-sufficient in the essential tools to fight the pandemic.
"Open and non-discriminatory markets will ensure that goods and services can reach those in most urgent need, likewise, continued investment in the region will be important to countering the economic fallout from the pandemic," she said.
Hence, Rohana said, the region must intensify efforts to enhance the financial inclusion of micro, small and medium enterprises and their participation in international trade through a more robust enabling environment and capacity building for digital transformation.
“Now more than ever, we need to stay the course on trade and investment liberalisation and not regress from free trade.
“We need to constantly remind ourselves that the pursuit of open markets in the region has lifted millions of people out of poverty and not turn our back on globalisation," she added.
Malaysian National News Agency
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