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2021 APEC MRT Group Photo 2021

PECC co-chairs Dr Richard Cantor and Ambassador Zhan Yongxin represented the Council at the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting. During the meeting Dr Cantor spoke on behalf of the co-chairs noting that “Last month we met with our PECC executive committee to discuss developments in the region, and there was an unambiguous message from our members that the economic recovery remains fragile with several economies in our region suffering from 2nd or 3rd waves of infections.

Dr Cantor continued to say that “the region’s most urgent priority is to cooperate on vaccinating as many people as we can, as quickly and as equitably as we can because this will ultimately facilitate the movement of people and the opening of our economies.”

PECC has five recommendations to address the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. We call on APEC to adopt practical measures to ensure the accessibility and affordability of COVID-19 vaccines in all economies.
  2. While manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines has increased enormously, governments need to ensure the free flows not only of finished vaccines but also the raw materials that go into their manufacture. Last year APEC Trade Ministers agreed to a Declaration on Facilitating the Movement of Essential Goods, this can be taken further with more specific actions to facilitate the movement of the materials needed to produce vaccines.
  3. We call on APEC to initiate, or support efforts, to improve market information on vaccine supply chains. For example, APEC should initiate to improve market information on vaccine supply chains – similar to the G20 Agricultural Market Information System for key food markets.
  4. Regulators should cooperate on vaccination regulatory approval processes to expedite equitable delivery of vaccines.
    5. Governments should designate the workers that make it possible for vaccines to cross borders - whether by boat or airplane, as essential workers and ensure they are vaccinated.

APEC Trade Ministers were resolute in their view that defeating COVID-19 is the top priority for every economy and the role that trade must play as a tool for responding to the pandemic. They recognized the urgent need to accelerate the production and distribution of safe, effective, quality-assured, and affordable COVID-19 vaccines. As such they agreed to the APEC MRT Statement on COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Chains with a review by November 2021 and every 12 months as well as the APEC MRT Statement on Services to Support the Movement of Essential Goods, progress on this work will be reviewed in 2022.

APEC Trade Ministers also received a briefing from new WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Ministers were united in their resolve to work together to ensure successful outcomes at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference that will take place shortly after the APEC Leaders’ Meeting. This includes work on issues such as: a temporary waiver of certain intellectual property protections on COVID-19 vaccines; reforms to improve the WTO’s functioning including its negotiating and dispute settlement functions. Most urgently Ministers looked for a successful conclusion to the fisheries subsidies by 31 July 2021. They also recognized the importance of initiatives on e-commerce; domestic regulation in services; micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs); and investment facilitation for development to modernise trade rules and called for substantial progress in the relevant initiatives.

PECC Statement to APEC MRT