Committed to public good

Work must go on: Apec leaders in attendance on screen at the online summit held in Kuala Lumpur. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) are committed to collaborating and supporting each other for equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccine, says Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He stressed on the vital need to accelerate work towards developing the vaccine and making it a global public good that is available and affordable to all.

Muhyiddin also said that an important call for action was the Declaration on Facilitating the Movement of Essential Goods in Apec, which was pioneered by Malaysia.

It sought to ensure essential goods were able to move across borders without being subjected to unfair trade measures.

This will lead to a more conducive trade and investment flow among the Apec economies through open, vibrant, transparent and sustainable trading systems.

“All Apec leaders reaffirm their concerns pertaining to the impact of Covid-19 on developing economies, with strong emphasis placed to protect people’s well-being, at

the same time, keeping economic activities moving so that people’s lives and livelihoods can be safeguarded.

“They also recognise the critical need of those most impacted by the pandemic and the need to empower the economic sectors.

Meeting peers: (From left) Muhyiddin and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein waiting to give opening remarks at the virtual Apec leaders’ summit in Kuala Lumpur. — APMeeting peers: (From left) Muhyiddin and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein waiting to give opening remarks at the virtual Apec leaders’ summit in Kuala Lumpur. — AP

“We also welcome contributions of additional resources across Apec to combat the pandemic and support workers and sectors through the economic recovery process, ” Muhyiddin said during a press conference on Friday night after chairing the Apec Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM), held virtually for the first time.

The meeting saw Apec leaders agreeing to the 2020 Kuala Lumpur Declaration, which is to stand united in enabling the Asia-Pacific region to successfully recover from the pandemic and its economic impacts.

On the whole, Muhyiddin said regional cooperation was crucial to contain the impacts of the pandemic and Apec economies have come together to collect and share information, keep open the supply chains for medical and food products and to coordinate policy responses.

“We have seen heightened spending on healthcare among member economies to expand hospital capacity, procure more resources for treatment, prevention as well as testing materials.

“Perhaps the most interesting opportunity arising from the pandemic crisis is the rise of the digital economy.

“We have seen how innovation from digitalisation has served where households and businesses around the region have turned to technology to help function efficiently daily.

“On a larger scale, digital tools have helped in the surveillance of Covid-19, in contact tracing and in tracking trends and developments related to the virus, ” Muhyiddin said.

He added that Apec would drive its member economies to share the best practices to harness the opportunities of digital economy and foster an enabling environment to facilitate the flow of data and strengthen consumer and business trust in digital transactions.

Muhyiddin noted that the scale of the colossal impact of the pandemic upon Apec economies may result in regional growth declining by 2.7% this year, against 3.6% growth in 2019, making it the most significant drop since the near-zero growth rate recorded in 2009 during the global financial crisis.

A lot of companies and businesses also went into distress or folded, coupled with a record number of job losses.

Meanwhile, Apec has also pledged to refrain from backtracking and resorting to protectionist measures to keep markets and borders open.

This includes ensuring smooth cross-border movement of essential goods such as food, medicine and medical supplies and other necessities during the pandemic to ensure an unobstructed supply chain within the region.

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