Apec pushes for market driven economic integration towards regional recovery

Apec pushes for market driven economic integration towards regional recovery

KUALA LUMPUR: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) ministers responsible for trade agreed to push for market driven economic integration and work on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (Ftaap) agenda which will contribute to high quality and comprehensive regional undertakings.

They affirmed the importance of agreed-upon rules in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which enhance market predictability, enable business confidence and allow trade to flow.

“We’ll continue to engage constructively on WTO issues, including by supporting the necessary reform to improve its functioning,” the ministers said in a joint statement released after their virtual 31st Apec Ministerial Meeting today.

They also called the progress of on-going WTO negotiations to be expedited, in the lead up to the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference and are taking note of the call by Apec’s Business Advisory Council for it to continue supporting the multilateral trading system.

The ministers reiterated that any emergency trade measures designed to address Covid-19 should be targeted, proportionate, transparent, temporary, do not create unnecessary barriers to trade, and are consistent with WTO rules.

As the pandemic has underscored the role of digital economy, they instructed Apec economies’ senior officials to accelerate the implementation of its Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap and welcome the Apec Roadmap on Digital Financial Inclusion.

While expressing their deepest condolences over the tragic loss of lives and empathy for those who are suffering due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ministers said they are committed to continuing to cooperate and act swiftly in fostering quality growth, and safeguard the lives and livelihoods of the people.

“Together in solidarity, we reiterate our concern about the impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable developing economies,” they said.

Malaysia, as the chair of Apec 2020 launched the Covid-19 Latest and Immediate Virtual Exchange or Covid-19 Live site in partnership with the Apec Secretariat to bolster a coordinated approach to collecting and sharing information on the pandemic.

The site will serve as a tool for information sharing among Apec members to improve the region’s preparedness against pandemics and as a reference point for member economies’ Covid-19 experiences.

On economic and technical cooperation, the ministers acknowledged the on-going need to advance stimulus measures to help economic recovery.

“We welcome international organisations and financial institutions’ efforts in assisting Apec’s economic responses through the crisis and into recovery,” they said, adding that commitment towards financial stability also need to be underscored.

The conclusion of the Apec Ministerial Meeting sets the stage for the first-ever virtual Apec Economic Leaders’ Meeting on Friday, Nov 20.-Bernama