The discussion on a range of agendas is a part of the preparations for the New Zealand-hosted 2021 APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting on Saturday (June 5), according to a release issued by the APEC Secretariat and received here on Friday.
"There was a clear and strong sense among senior officials that APEC should be responsive to the crisis and find practical ways to support recovery through trade and that our work should complement and support the work of the World Trade Organization," the 2021 New Zealand Chair of APEC Senior Officials Vangelis Vitalis emphasized.
Senior officials are encouraged by the strong progress made this year to implement the 2020 Ministers’ Responsible for Trade Declaration on Facilitating the Movement of Essential Goods, including work on vaccines, related goods, and services and pushed for high-level commitment ahead of the Ministers’ meeting on Saturday.
According to a recent APEC report, eliminating tariffs on vaccines and related goods and easing export restrictions will help expedite vaccine distribution and production, thereby resulting in wider availability and affordability and contribute to a healthier recovery.
At the two-day meeting, Chair of APEC Business Advisory Council, Rachel Taulelei, briefed senior officials by reiterating the need to ensure open and unrestricted trade in vaccines and associated goods and services "as there is no solution to this crisis unless as many as possible are vaccinated."
Taulelei affirmed that widespread vaccination was a prerequisite for the safe reopening of borders, which is critical to economic recovery.
Furthermore, APEC senior officials concurred on continuing consultations on the resumption of safe and seamless cross-border travel, noting that border restrictions, while necessary to protect populations from COVID-19, are having a significant economic impact.
"Member economies are united in supporting the region’s micro, small, and medium enterprises; women; and others, with untapped potential, given the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on these groups," Vitalis remarked.
"APEC is also progressing work on trade and sustainability issues, including the indigenous economy – a New Zealand priority," he stated.
APEC member economies continue to consider further work on the environmental goods and services initiative, as well as carrying on the work for building APEC’s capacity to address harmful subsidies, such as those on fisheries, as part of implementing the APEC Roadmap on Combatting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.
A New Zealand priority is to increase emphasis on inclusion and sustainability policies to help drive recovery, including through structural reform, in particular, by stimulating growth and removing undue burden on investors and traders.
The 2021 APEC Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting is scheduled to be held virtually on June 16, with priority being accorded to promoting macro-economic and structural policy responses to the pandemic.
APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade is set to meet this Saturday (June 5), with focus on trade’s vital role in battling the pandemic and preparing for and driving recovery.
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