KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 — The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has pledged to refraining from backtracking and resorting to protectionist measures to keep markets and borders open, said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today.
He said this included ensuring the smooth cross-border movement of essential goods including food, medicines, and medical supplies as well as other necessities during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure an unobstructed supply chain within the region.
“APEC’s immediate priority is to ensure the readiness of the health and medical care institutions to provide critical treatment as well as to manage public health policies to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“From the economic perspective, the impact has been severely devastating, with a significant number of companies and businesses going into distress, or even folding. Furthermore, the region has seen a record number of job loss,” Muhyiddin said at a virtual media conference today on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting here.
The Prime Minister was answering a question on whether any sticky issues arose during the meeting.
Muhyiddin said APEC’s work this year had been focused on the importance of economic recovery post-COVID-19 pandemic.
“Equally important is to accelerate work towards developing the COVID-19 vaccine and making it a global public good that is available and affordable to all, that is, multi-lateralising the vaccine,” he added.
Muhyiddin pointed out that the colossal impact of the pandemic upon APEC economies might result in regional growth declining by 2.7 per cent in 2020, against a 3.6 per cent growth last year, making it the most significant drop since the near-zero growth rate recorded in 2009 during the global financial crisis.
As for the COVID-19 vaccine, he noted that all APEC leaders had noted their commitments to collaborate and support each other for equitable access to the vaccine.
An important call for action was the Declaration on Facilitating the Movement of Essential Goods in APEC, which was pioneered by Malaysia, he added.
“This declaration seeks to ensure that essential goods are able to move across borders without being subjected to unfair trade measures.
“This declaration will lead to a more conducive trade and investment flows among the APEC economies through open, vibrant, transparent and sustainable trading systems,” said Muhyiddin.
He added that APEC Leaders also recognised the critical need of those most impacted by the pandemic and the need to empower the economic sectors.
“We also welcome the contribution of additional resources across APEC to combat the pandemic and support workers and sectors through the economic recovery process,” said Muhyiddin.
He said the APEC 2020 meetings in Kuala Lumpur had been a pivoting point for the organisation as it moved beyond the agenda of the Bogor Goals.
The theme for this year’s APEC 2020 meetings is “Optimising Human Potential towards a Resilient Future of Shared Prosperity: Pivot. Prioritise”, which will guide the development and implementation of key policies.
“It will go much further than the Bogor Goals as the latter focuses only on trade and investment,” said Muhyiddin.