Containing Covid-19 and Spurring Economic Recovery

10:05:21 AM | 5/14/2021

Asia-Pacific business leaders attended an online meeting of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) on May 11, 2021. ABAC Vietnam President Vu Tien Loc together with its members and the Secretariat joined the meeting.

At the meeting, ABAC members emphasized the dire need for closer cooperation and right policies to overcome challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

ABAC said it is finalizing a report to submit to APEC Trade Ministers in their gathering in June 2021. ABAC also believed that it is now very important to work together to control the Covid-19 pandemic. Regional trade should be an important contributor to this effort by supporting the production, distribution and trade of vaccines and other medical supplies.

The Covid-19 pandemic is still developing very complicatedly in many countries, including APEC economies that are being severely affected such as Papua New Guinea and India. Therefore, ABAC called on APEC to share vaccines among economies and take urgent action to achieve vaccination as quickly and widely as possible, including the adoption of the COVAX Facility.

ABAC believed that vaccination is one important tool to boost economic recovery. ABAC has clear priorities for the post-pandemic period: Reopening safe borders through vaccination and testing; more flexible cross-border supply chains by removing non-tariff barriers to foster digital trade; and creating a more level playing field for small businesses and women.

ABAC said the World Trade Organization (WTO) reform is a top priority as well. ABAC adopted the WTO Declaration, calling on APEC to take the lead in forming a strong, trustworthy and relevant agency that can effectively tackle emerging issues such as digital trade, decarbonization and inclusive growth.

Delegates to the meeting said that COVID poses an immediate threat but we cannot ignore the next big challenge, climate change. ABAC is developing a set of climate leadership principles for adopting an equitable transition to a low-carbon economy and advocating commercial levers to achieve greater sustainability.

APEC's Putrajaya Vision calls for an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful community by 2040. ABAC fully subscribes to that aspiration. ABAC's 2021 focus emphasized the importance of people and planet and maintained the region's shared prosperity.

By Huong Ly, Vietnam Business Forum