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APEC urged to speed up vaccine flow
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APEC urged to speed up vaccine flow

China is calling on members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to accelerate the cross-border flow of vaccines and rejuvenate the World Trade Organization to support regional economic recovery through trade, the country's top commerce official said.

To tackle the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, all parties should strengthen anti-pandemic cooperation and build an open, inclusive, innovative and interconnected community in the Asia-Pacific region, Commerce Minister Wang Wentao said.

He made the remarks at the 2021 APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting, which was held virtually and chaired by the government of New Zealand, from Friday to Saturday. The meeting focused on trade's vital role in combating the pandemic and preparing for and driving the recovery.

While adopting trade as a tool to respond to the pandemic, trade ministers from the APEC economies reaffirmed their commitment to the rules-based multilateral trading system, pledging to rejuvenate the WTO and inject momentum into a series of trade negotiations with the aim of concluding them by the end of this year, the Singapore-based APEC Secretariat said in a statement.

Wang called on all APEC economies to engage in closer cooperation to ensure that the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference, scheduled to be held at the end of this year in Geneva, is successful and delivers tangible results for all.

Damien O'Connor, New Zealand's minister for trade and export growth, said, "As we face the biggest health and economic crisis of our lifetimes, I was greatly heartened to see how we united to make progress."

He said APEC economies represent half of global GDP and they are keen to use trade as a force to boost their economies.

Since the crisis triggered by the pandemic has made the challenge of delivering inclusive growth more urgent than ever, many APEC economies have promoted inclusive trade policies that can enable a swift and sustainable economic recovery, said Liang Ming, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.

Liu Chenyang, director of the APEC Study Center of China at Nankai University in Tianjin, said it would be practical for APEC economies to advance the digital economy, and make it a new growth engine for inclusive growth.

He said it is vital for developing economies to tackle the digital divide and unlock the innovative force of the digital economy and e-commerce in introducing women and micro-sized, small and medium-sized enterprises into the global value chain.

Wang said China has further expanded market access in an all-around way, continuously optimized its business environment, and actively participated in and promoted regional free trade arrangements.

"China is willing to work with all members to maintain the stability of the industrial and supply chains in the Asia-Pacific region, and promote the recovery of the regional economy," he said.

Since China has already ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and will favorably consider joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, they will be major pathways leading to a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific, said Xu Liuping, chairman of China FAW Group, a State-owned automaker based in Changchun, Jilin province.

He said the moves will pave the way for his company to export more products, in particular trucks and electric passenger vehicles to other Asia-Pacific economies.

China DailyShen Yi

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