APEC to hold virtual trade ministers’ meeting on COVID-19

The 2020 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting, initially slated for April this year, will be conducted

APECs 2019 trade ministers meeting

Photo: APEC

The 2020 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting, initially slated for April this year, will be conducted virtually today.

Hosted by current APEC chair Malaysia, the meeting will deliberate on proposals mooted during the Virtual Extraordinary Senior Officials Meeting on COVID-19 (VESOM) earlier this year. These proposals include the creation of an online information-sharing platform, intended to consolidate policy interventions and initiatives adopted by APEC members to ameliorate effects of the pandemic. The meeting will also expound upon the APEC Business Advisory Council’s role as an interlocutor in private sector mitigation efforts.

Although member states have asserted the need to implement national emergency measures that may impede regional economic synergies, the meeting will likely operationalise previously discussed initiatives for regional cooperation—namely, a sub-fund and declaration regarding the movement of essential goods. This will delineate a self-determined list of tariff-exempted goods—specifically medical supplies—and expedite trade and humanitarian support. The region has been one of the most successful in flattening the pandemic’s curve, and while the virus will likely transform the existing business climate, today’s discussions on APEC’s digital agenda, electronic commerce and smart-city solutions are likely to facilitate a strong recovery undergirded by transparency and good faith.

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