JAKARTA – Ministers from 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies are meeting virtually over the next two days to accelerate the region’s economic recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic through innovative trade policy and multilateral cooperation.
“We all agree that trade is vital in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic, and it will be the driver of growth and a force for good for our future prosperity,” New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor said.
The 2021 APEC Ministerial Meeting is co-chaired by New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta and Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor, according to the APEC Secretariat in a release received here on Tuesday.
Policy recommendations were shared by representatives of the APEC Business Advisory Council and APEC’s official observers — the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, and Pacific Island Forum.
“Together, we have worked tirelessly over the past year to deliver a diverse range of meaningful outcomes, notably in speeding up the movement of vaccine supplies and other essential goods across borders,” Minister O’Connor said while welcoming ministers at the meeting.
“Progress in APEC’s ambitious agenda this year shows how our collective determination can overcome the challenges during the pandemic. And this momentum must not stop,” he said.
The meeting precedes the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting on November 12 and the 12th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference (MC12).
Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, will share her views on the global trading system and how APEC members can contribute to ambitious outcomes at the upcoming conference.
“Today’s meeting will provide an important opportunity to build momentum and seek consensus ahead of MC12. APEC’s support for the World Trade Organization is an area of which we all agreed this year,” O’Connor said.
He further said the APEC trade ministers’ goal is to intensify regional cooperation to support WTO’s agenda at its upcoming conference as a way of driving a trade-led recovery from the pandemic.
“This approach benefits all. Free, fair, and open trade will get us all through the pandemic,” O’Connor said. “In this spirit, we must continue to work together to ensure that our trade and investment environment is free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, and predictable to benefit all of our people.”
“This year, APEC is at a turning point in its history. We, as ministers, have the opportunity to set a course for APEC for the next two decades,” he added. (Antara)