APEC: Free Trade, a "Solution to the Challenges" of COVID-19

APEC: Free Trade, a “Solution to the Challenges” of COVID-19

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Participants in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministerial Conference, held online from 8 to 9 November 2021.


“It’s free, fair and open trade that will help economies get out of this pandemic,” he said. New Zealand Trade Minister Damian O’Connor, host of the meeting, said. “We need openness to stimulate global growth, the truth is trade offers the solution to our challenges.”, he added.

Ministers from 21 countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathered online to discuss their response to COVID-19 ahead of the heads of state meeting on Saturday, November 13, which will be attended by US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Mr. O’Connor said key points of discussion included a plan to voluntarily freeze fossil fuel subsidies and commitments to ease tariffs on vaccines and other medical supplies in the event of a pandemic.

According to Mr. O’Connor, the need not to erect trade barriers, in response to the challenges posed by the pandemic, was unanimous among the assembled ministers.

“About 81 million jobs were lost in the region due to COVID-19 and the impact on supply chains has been significant, but APEC members have rejected protectionism during this crisis.” He completed.

The 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation collectively represent approximately 40% of the world’s population and approximately 60% of global GDP. An unprecedented virtual meeting brought together APEC leaders in July with the goal of improving the response of countries in the region to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Freeze fossil fuel subsidies

New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaya Mahuta said on Wednesday that APEC members have agreed to send a strong message about halting any increase in fossil fuel subsidies.

Photo provided by New Zealand’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, July 17, to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.


“These subsidies cost our savings billions of dollars annually, but the real impact we feel is on our environment.”She said.

The issue was highlighted during the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, where leaders of 91 major global companies called for it to be removed.

The APEC Summit was originally scheduled to be held in Auckland, but it is being held online for the second time due to COVID-19. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was easier to access the digital platform than a face-to-face event.

In the discussion program Saturday, November 13: How to reopen borders without spreading the virus, how to ensure a just recovery in the event of a pandemic and how to move towards a carbon-neutral economy.

The debate on the sidelines of the summit will be dominated by the nominations of China and Taiwan (China) to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the region’s largest free trade agreement, between 11 countries.

The United States will also want to use the event to reaffirm its commitment to Indo-Pacific trade after years of protectionist policies under the Donald Trump administration.

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