TEMPO.CO, Kuala Lumpur - The economic leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) committed their efforts on Friday, Nov. 20, to combating the COVID-19 pandemic and pushing for post-pandemic recovery in a coordinated manner.
The bloc also launched a new long-term blueprint for regional cooperation, which envisions an "open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community."
Coordinated Efforts in Mitigating COVID-19 Impacts
In his opening speech at the virtually-held 27th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said APEC would play a central role in spearheading post-pandemic recovery.
In a joint declaration afterward, the APEC economic leaders announced their commitment to "stand united in our determination to enable the Asia-Pacific region to successfully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts" amid one of the most "challenging health and economic crises."
"We are committed to protecting our people's lives and safeguarding their health. We resolve to further navigate the region towards recovery along the path of strong, balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure economic growth," said the Kuala Lumpur Declaration, named after the capital city of Malaysia, the host of this year's APEC meetings.
"Our coordinated action and cooperation are more important than ever to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 and realize new and emerging opportunities for prosperity for all," it said.
"On the whole, regional cooperation is crucial to contain the impacts of the pandemic. 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," Muhyiddin told a press conference after chairing the economic leaders' meeting.
"During the meeting, the APEC economic leaders have exchanged views on the current state of the global economy and initiatives by APEC economies in combating the health crisis. They also discussed matters related to regional issues including APEC economies' responses in mitigating the health and economic impact of COVID-19," he said.
The Malaysian prime minister said APEC's immediate priority is to ensure the readiness of the health and medical care institutions to provide critical treatment as well as to manage public health policies to contain the spread of COVID-19.
"APEC has also pledged to refrain from backtracking and resorting to protectionist measures to keep markets and borders open. This includes ensuring the smooth cross-border movement of essential goods including food, medicines and medical supplies and other necessities during the pandemic to ensure unobstructed supply chain within the region," he said.
Muhyiddin added that all leaders had noted their commitments to collaborate with and support each other for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
New Vision for Future Cooperation
At the end of the meeting on Friday, the APEC economic leaders launched "APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040" which will replace the Bogor Goals to be expired this year.
The vision named after Malaysia's administration center of Putrajaya envisions "an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040 for the prosperity of all our people and future generations."
In the new vision document, the APEC economies are committed to achieving the vision by three economic drivers, namely trade and investment, innovation and digitalization, as well as a strong, balanced, secure, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Among the pledges, the APEC members are committed to continuing the work to deliver a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment.
"We reaffirm our support for agreed-upon rules of the WTO in delivering a well-functioning multilateral trading system and promoting the stability and predictability of international trade flows," according to the document.
"We will further advance the Bogor Goals and economic integration in the region in a manner that is market-driven, including through the work on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) agenda which contributes to a high standard and comprehensive regional undertakings," it said.
The APEC economies also agree to foster an enabling environment that is, among others, market-driven and supported by digital economy and innovation, to empower people and businesses to participate and grow in an interconnected global economy.
Meanwhile, the APEC economies will foster quality growth that brings palpable benefits and greater health and wellbeing to all, including micro, small and medium enterprises, women and others with untapped economic potential, with the aim to ensure that the Asia-Pacific region is resilient to shocks, crises, pandemics and other emergencies.
"We will promote economic policies, cooperation and growth which support global efforts to comprehensively address all environmental challenges, including climate change, extreme weather and natural disasters, for a sustainable planet," said the vision.
"When the Bogor Goals was first announced, it was intended to strengthen the open multilateral trading system, enhance trade and investment liberalization in the Asia-Pacific and intensify Asia-Pacific development cooperation," said Muhyiddin. "The APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 offers the way forward for APEC beyond 2020."
Officials of the APEC economies are expected to complete a comprehensive implementation plan for the vision in 2021.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her country, as the host of APEC in 2021, is committed to fostering an inclusive, sustainable and innovative future for the Asia-Pacific region.
"APEC 2021 will be the start of reigniting growth, implementing our new vision and setting a long-lasting recovery across the entire region," she said.
APEC is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific. APEC's 21 members aim to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.