KUALA LUMPUR (Xinhua): Senior officials from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) economies held a virtual meeting on Wednesday (May 27) night to discuss measures to increase cooperation on the Covid-19 outbreak and to facilitate economic recovery, Malaysia, the host nation of Apec 2020, said Thursday.
Hairil Yahri Yaacob, a senior official from Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Ministry who chaired the meeting, urged participating economies to prioritise the undisputed flow of essential goods and services across the region.
The official said this was key to ensuring participating economies were able to rebound following the wide-ranging economic disruptions caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
"Despite the trying times that we presently face, the work in Apec must go on," he said. "Apec's broader work in areas such as trade and investment, business mobility, tourism, food security, sustainable development, customs procedures, standards setting and intellectual property rights will play a crucial role in our region's recovery."
The meeting focused on operationalising the Apec Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Statement on Covid-19 issued earlier this month, which called for greater regional cooperation including keeping markets open and ensuring a smooth flow of essential goods and services, Malaysia's Apec 2020 Secretariat said in the statement.
Senior Officials also heard from Apec Business Advisory Council (ABAC) as the Council offered its insights regarding the private sector's role in mitigating the impact of the pandemic and hastening regional economic recovery, it said.
Five proposals were discussed during the 4our-hour meeting, including the setting up of a possible platform for information exchange on the policy responses by Apec Economies to the Covid-19 crisis; two separate proposals on possible ways to facilitate the flow of essential goods during this time of crisis; creation of a sub-fund for Apec-wide cooperation to combat Covid-19 and navigate the region towards a path of economic recovery proposed by China; and guidance and directions for the Apec bodies to continue future work during the pandemic.
"All five proposals garnered constructive comments from the Economies. Further discussions on these proposals are expected to be undertaken at the relevant Apec bodies," said the secretariat, adding that preparations are already underway for Malaysia to chair another virtual senior officials meeting and a virtual ministerial-level meeting.
"We are facing an unprecedented challenge and we must adapt to the changes brought about by the Covid-19 crisis," said Hairil, adding that "If we continue to strengthen the spirit of cooperation between our economies, we will come out of this crisis better and more resilient."
Apec is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific, with 21 members. - Xinhua
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