KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) today discussed on how to formulate a possible coordinated approach to collecting and sharing information on policies and measures regarding Covid-19 and its economic effects.
In his welcoming remarks, Senior Official Meeting chair Hairil Yahri Yaacob said there were five proposals, including the establishment of a platform for information exchange, operationalising the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) statement vis-a-vis facilitating the flow of essential goods, and a checklist of instructions for Apec committees and sub-fora.
“Despite the trying times that we presently face, the work in Apec must go on, by means of virtual meetings such as this one, or through other inter-sessional mechanisms.
“Apec’s broader work in other areas such as trade and investment, business mobility, tourism, food security, sustainable development, customs procedures, standards setting and intellectual property rights will play a crucial role in our region’s recovery,” he said during the first ever Virtual Extraordinary SOM on Covid-19 today.
The virtual meeting was attended by all Apec economies, the Apec Business Advisory Council (Abac) as well as selected observers from international and regional organisations.
He said the pandemic had affected about five million people and resulted in hundreds of thousands of human losses which made lockdowns and social distancing necessary to contain the virus from spreading.
However, the resulting economic slowdown has the potential to cause long-term harm to the lives and livelihoods of millions more.
He noted that earlier this month, Apec MRT issued a joint statement on the Covid-19 pandemic, which acknowledged that while halting the virus’s spread remained the top priority of each economy, remedying the economic challenges must also be accorded a specific focus.
“Our ministers have reaffirmed the utmost importance of collaboration at all levels and of keeping markets open. They have committed to ensure that the flow of essential goods and services across the region remains undisrupted.
“If the region continues to strengthen the spirit of cooperation between its economies, Apec will come out of this crisis better and more resilient,” he added. — Bernama