Member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) should maintain free and fair trade to attain sustained economic recovery from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Friday.
In his intervention during the 2020 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, President Duterte recognized APEC’s role in spurring economic growth and prosperity that has lifted millions of people out of poverty in the Pacific Rim region.
Despite the current hurdles being confronted by APEC members, the President said they should not be discouraged and must recommit themselves to bolder and more concrete ways to ensure the region’s economic vitality.
Through the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040, APEC members reaffirm their support for a free and rules-based multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) as its vanguard.
“We commit to address the widening income inequalities between the countries. And we aim to empower ourselves to face the disruptive impact of a new globalization, driven by digitalization and innovation,” the President said.
“We convey our deepest appreciation to the eminent experts who crafted the recommendations for our new Vision,” he added, noting the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 gives the economic bloc renewed confidence in its collective effort to build better, healthier, and more prosperous societies.
Recognizing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the defining challenge of the present generation, the President spelled out areas of cooperation for APEC member economies.
APEC, he said, should ensure the unimpeded flow of medical supplies and technologies, especially COVID-19 vaccines. There’s a need to defeat the virus everywhere so strengthening partnerships in vaccine development is necessary, he noted.
“Several modalities are available. Aside from bilateral and multilateral cooperation, tripartite arrangements can be made between the government, private sector, and multilateral financial institutions,” the Philippine leader said.
“There is no other way. Let us resolve to act decisively on universal vaccine access and maximize these mechanisms.”
President Duterte said giving the public unfettered flow of information is also the key to effective response and mitigation efforts.
In this regard, he welcomed Malaysia’s initiative to establish the COVID-Live online portal aimed at sharing best practices among member economies.
The APEC forum launched Putrajaya Vision 2040 Friday, promising cooperation to build an open, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific region.
In a statement about Putrajaya Vision 2040, the economic grouping vowed to work together to achieve a free, open, fair and non-discriminatory trade and investment environment.
The bloc also highlighted the need to pursue multilateralism to counter rising unilateralism and protectionism and has thrown its support to the WTO to deliver a well-functioning multilateral trading system. PND