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Asia-Pacific Business Leaders Call for Governments to Work Together to Overcome COVID-19 Challenges

Tuesday, 11 May 2021 [Singapore] – At the second virtual APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting of the year held today, Asia-Pacific business leaders noted that the economic region was at risk of being derailed by ongoing threats posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, vaccine nationalism, as well as increased protectionism. Against this backdrop, ABAC called for governments to take serious, concerted actions to overcome our collective challenges.

Chaired by New Zealand, the meeting discussed how greater regional integration is imperative for countries to “build back better” from the global Covid-19 pandemic. ABAC is the advisory body appointed by Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to provide private sector recommendations on regional co-operation.

Representing Singapore at the meeting were Singapore Business Federation (SBF) Senior Advisor Mr Ho Meng Kit, Accenture Singapore Chairperson Ms Teo Lay Lim, Standard Chartered Bank Co-Head of Client Coverage, Corporate, Commercial and Institutional Banking Mr Goh Beng Kim, and SBF CEO Mr Lam Yi Young.

During the meeting, ABAC discussed its key priorities and concerns that will be presented in a letter to the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade during their meeting on 5 June 2021. These key priorities included ABAC’s call for leveraging the potential of vaccines as a means of reopening borders and enabling global economic recovery, while at the same time, working on a consistent regional framework for the reopening of borders.

Mr Lam, who is also the convenor of the ABAC Taskforce on Reopening of Borders for Safe and Seamless Travel, said, “There have been many ongoing conversations around the critical topic of reopening of borders. During last Monday’s Public-Private Dialogue on Reopening of Borders for Safe and Seamless Travel, many insightful views were shared among representatives from the different participating economies and industries. The taskforce will continue to advocate for a consistent regional framework, including harmonised standards and protocols for quarantine and testing, mutual recognition of vaccination, green lanes for vaccinated travellers where local circumstances permit, as well as the facilitation of business travel. The taskforce will be working to put forward ABAC’s recommendations in its annual report to APEC Leaders.

As part of the meeting, ABAC also prepared a statement expressing the business community’s unwavering support for the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which is at the heart of the multilateral rules-based trading system. In the statement, ABAC welcomed the appointment of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Director-General of WTO, and called on APEC economies to prioritise coordinating a strong and effective response to the pandemic, getting the WTO system fully operational again, as well as achieving concrete outcomes on necessary reforms to WTO rules and processes.

Please refer to the ABAC media releases below for more information: 

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