I thank our Chair, The Right Honourable Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, for his admirable efforts to make our meeting tonight a reality.
COVID-19 is indeed the defining challenge of our generation, unprecedented in reach and ramifications for our societies.
Our immediate response was to save lives, even if it meant bringing economic activities to a halt.
It was the right thing to do on the onset. We saved lives and contained the spread of the virus.
But it is clear by now that this approach is hardly sustainable. We have to reopen our economies, while protecting and helping our people adjust to a ‘new normal’.
This is a difficult balance to strike. Here lies the complexity and enormity of the recovery process.
We aim for a comprehensive recovery with no one left behind. This can only be done through deeper engagement with the international community, especially with close partners in the Pacific Rim region.
I draw attention to key areas where we can work together.
First, we have to ensure the unimpeded flow of medical supplies and technologies, especially COVID-19 vaccines. It is folly to assume that there can be pockets of safe havens in the face of a global pandemic.
We have to defeat the virus everywhere, or no one is safe. To do this, we need to strengthen partnerships to make vaccines a global public good.
Several modalities are available. Aside from bilateral and multilateral cooperation, tripartite arrangements can be made between the government, private sector, and multilateral financial institutions.
There is no other way. Let us resolve to act decisively on universal vaccine access and maximize these mechanisms.
Second, information is key to effective response and mitigation efforts. We welcome Malaysia’s initiative to establish the COVID-Live online portal, precisely for sharing of best practices.
Finally, we need to keep trade free, open, and fair. This is key to achieving sustained and inclusive economic recovery.
APEC will play an important role.
Mr. Chair, over the years APEC has helped spur economic growth and prosperity, lifting millions of people out of poverty in the Pacific Rim region.
Tonight, we recognize the economic advancements we have thus far made.
Yet we have a new reality that is sobering.
We should not be discouraged. If anything, we must recommit ourselves to bolder, more concrete ways to ensure our region’s economic well-being and vitality.
The APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 recognizes the pressing challenges of today and foresees those of the future.
Through this Vision, we reaffirm our support for a free and rules-based multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization 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.
We convey our deepest appreciation to the eminent experts who crafted the recommendations for our new Vision.
Indeed, the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 gives us renewed confidence in our collective efforts and ability to build back better, healthier, and more prosperous societies.
Let us join hands, as we have always done, to make this Vision a reality.
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Source: PCOO-PND (Presidential News Desk)