The 31st APEC Ministerial Meeting, held virtually on Monday (Nov 16), was chaired by Malaysia’s Senior Minister and Minister of International Trade and Industry Mohamed Azmin Ali, according to a written statement issued by the APEC Secretariat and received here on Tuesday.
The APEC ministers are working in unison to advance regional trade and investment amid the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic that has extensively disrupted supply chains and wreaked havoc on the global economic landscape.
"This year, we have pivoted, prioritized, and progressed work on several APEC initiatives despite the challenging circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic," Chair of this year’s APEC Ministerial Meeting, Mohamed Azmin Ali, remarked.
"Continue to resist the forces of protectionism and strengthen support to a well-functioning, rules-based multilateral trading system while remaining steadfast to advancing the development agenda of the World Trade Organization," Ali stated at the virtual meeting while urging member economies.
The APEC region recorded its first ever economic growth contraction in three decades, with gross domestic product plunging by 3.7 percent in the first six months of 2020.
This grim scenario followed a surge in unemployment rates among APEC economies, with over 74 million currently in search of work.
Ali commended member economies’ relentless efforts in slowly reopening economic activities, ensuring that workers return to work, and allowing cross-border movement of people through the introduction of travel bubbles.
"All while managing the collective concerns on the health, safety, and well-being of our people," he noted.
"The travel bubbles that are emerging within the region are a crucial development, as these could possibly redefine the future of travel and tourism," he stated.
"These bubbles are also central to revitalizing the essential movement of people within APEC," he remarked.
At the meeting themed “Optimizing Human Potential towards a Resilient Future of Shared Prosperity: Pivot, Prioritise, Progress,” Ali underscored the importance of improving the narrative of trade and investment, one of the key priorities for Malaysia as the host this year.
"It is imperative to translate the benefits of trade and investment into a more inclusive economic growth that brings palpable benefits and greater well-being to all our people," he expounded.
"In this regard, we have placed particular emphasis on shared prosperity to enable more effective and meaningful economic participation by all segments of our societies," he stated.
Ministers have also completed their work in formulating APEC’s new post-2020 vision, which will chart the long-term strategic direction for the region for the next two decades. The recommendations from this meeting will be presented to APEC leaders at the upcoming virtual meeting on Friday (November 20).
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