The APEC finance ministers met online against the backdrop of major global economic and health crises and deliberated on fiscal and monetary interventions for mitigating the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They also endorsed a joint statement reflecting the finance ministers’ views on policy actions that are required to reduce risks and fast-track recovery, according to a written statement issued by the APEC Secretariat, which was received here on Wednesday.
“As the pandemic threatens to overwhelm health and economic systems around the world, member economies have responded with a wide range of measures, including the containment of movement and bolstering healthcare services, while at the same time providing financial support to households and businesses,” explained Malaysian Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, who chaired the online APEC finance ministers’ meeting.
Member economies have rolled out significant fiscal stimulus packages for up to 40 percent of the regional economy’s collective growth domestic product, coupled with monetary easing policies to address the impact of the pandemic.
The measures are aimed at protecting employment, supporting health systems and providing direct support to households and businesses, including vulnerable communities and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Recognizing the protracted duration of the pandemic, the ministers acknowledged the continued need to advance stimulus measures to help with recovery, while underscoring the importance of improving fiscal sustainability and transparency to support long-term and resilient development and future financing needs.
“Due to the movement restrictions and the need to comply with social distancing requirements, it is interesting to observe how quickly the world (has) embraced digitalization, with more people and businesses turning to online shopping, contactless payment, and online or mobile banking,” Tengku Zafrul stated.
At the meeting, APEC finance ministers also encouraged the expansion of financial services through digital tools, highlighting the need to expedite digital adoption and innovation as it allows economies to advance financial inclusion and operate in spite of social distancing.
Looking ahead, the ministers have been committed to supporting the momentum towards economic recovery by pushing structural reform efforts, keeping markets open, reinforcing global supply chains, investing in high quality infrastructure and health systems, protecting jobs, supporting communities and businesses, and strengthening social protection. (INE)
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