APEC member economies have committed to strengthening supply chains, removing business uncertainties, and promoting the digital economy to fast-track recovery from the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
The commitment was made during a virtual meeting held last week across eight time zones by the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment, as noted in a written statement received here on Tuesday.
The APEC Committee on Trade and Investment said it has pursued a strategic course of action to optimize its work in addressing bottlenecks related to trade and investment.
“All APEC member economies are currently managing the unthinkable challenges brought by the pandemic,” Krasna Bobenrieth, chair of the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment, said.
“The Committee on Trade and Investment can be part of the solution by adjusting our ongoing work and initiatives to respond to Covid-19, as well as exploring new areas that can be incorporated to speed up the recovery process for member economies,” she added.
Movement restrictions and closure of factories have disrupted the supply chain and exposed its vulnerability.
At the meeting, APEC members highlighted the need to boost supply chains’ resiliency and connectivity by focusing on harmonization and modernization of customs procedures, increasing the use of digital technologies, and improving cross-border connectivity.
Trade facilitation is seen as one of the main instruments for accelerating recovery. Therefore, APEC members have pressed for the need to encourage and deepen the implementation rate of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA).
According to the APEC Policy Support Unit, wider implementation of the WTO TFA could result in an 8 to 15-percent reduction in trade costs.
“It is clear that members have expressed a commitment to keep markets open and to avoid restrictive measures that can disrupt the trade of essential goods. The members have also further explored ways to facilitate the trade of medical goods and other essential goods,” Bobenrieth said.
APEC members have also highlighted the urgency to increase efforts towards building, facilitating, and promoting the capacity of micro, small and medium enterprises to help them integrate and participate in international trade through digital trade and inclusive policies.
Further work on the development of the internet and the digital economy will be undertaken by APEC’s recently established Digital Economy Steering Group.
The Covid-19 pandemic has restricted the movement of people in the region and hindered the support for trade and investment activities.
At the recent meeting, APEC members also exchanged views on the importance of facilitating business travel and allowing some flexibility to continue commercial activities.
Bobenrieth said she believes the committee can play a leading role in implementing the tasks mandated by the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade in their Covid-19 statement.
“Trade and investment are key components for economic growth and I am very encouraged by the constructive discussions and valuable exchange of ideas from member economies in this novel format (the virtual meet),” she said, adding the committee currently has over 40 initiatives in its pipeline that can contribute to solving the current challenges.
Policy monitoring and information sharing mechanisms are critical in assisting policymakers across the region to develop sound policies, she said.
APEC members are committed to keeping communication lines open and will continue to seek ways to strengthen trade and supply chains and rejuvenate investment in APEC, she added.
Source: Philippines News Agency