Jakarta (ANTARA) - The first cluster of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) dialog and meetings in 2020 is ongoing in Malaysia amid a regional outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) that has already affected thousands.

The First Senior Officials’ Meeting of APEC was held in Putrajaya, Malaysia, according to a written statement issued by the APEC Secretariat and received here on Tuesday.

The global community was just coming to terms with the potential effects of the spread of COVID-19 when activities among officials from around the Asia-Pacific region started on February 3, 2020, in Putrajaya.

However, APEC working groups and committees still met to discuss work plans and agendas to be advanced in 2020, a red-letter year for APEC. The meetings covered several topics, including trade and investment, structural reform, business mobility, sustainable development, and corruption.

Among the groups that met was the APEC Health Working Group, which traces back its origins to the multilateral response to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak 18 years ago, and whose continued activity has just become a regional first priority.

Chair of APEC Senior Officials Hairil Yahri Yaacob pointed to the fact that APEC members coming together despite the health scare demonstrated the region’s solidarity and resilience and was an example of how economies can rise together to shared challenges.

"I would like to express our appreciation to APEC member economies that placed their faith in Malaysia’s leadership and made it a point to participate in the meetings," Yaacob remarked during his opening remarks while opening the First Senior Officials Meeting of APEC 2020.
Chair of APEC Senior Officials, Hairil Yahri Yaacob. (APEC Secretariat)
He emphasized that the highest priority was given to the people’s well-being as well as various safety and precautionary measures were put in place to ensure that these gatherings went smoothly.

"Throughout these 17 days, we saw the participation of various stakeholders in meetings, workshops, activities, and side events. We also saw strong collaboration between the public and private sectors, especially during policy dialogues," Yaacob stated.

He noted that Malaysia, as the APEC 2020 host, had also capitalized on technological advancements to make remote participation through videoconferencing a seamless experience.

The videoconference enabled members, who could not travel owing to health-related domestic issues, to participate remotely from various cities in other economies.

"This was something that Malaysia did not take precautionary measures, but we managed to put in place necessary measures to mitigate the situation. In managing the risks and threats of this virus, the APEC 2020 Secretariat worked very closely with the Ministry of Health of Malaysia and other relevant authorities to ensure the safety of delegates and all parties involved in the meetings," Yaacob stated.


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Reporter: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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