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Head of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs Answers Questions from the Media on the 27th APEC MRT Meeting

Q1: The 27th APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting was held on June 5. What are the notable outcomes of this meeting?

A1: APEC is a crucial platform for trade and economic cooperation in Asia Pacific. At the 27th APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting, which was APEC’s first high-level event this year, MRTs focused on the role of trade in responding to the pandemic and enabling economic recovery. The numerous important consensuses reached by MRTs serve as economic and trade outcomes for this year’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting. They include:

First, stressing that trade should play a more important role in Covid-19 response and economic recovery. Committed to an open trade environment, APEC economies will launch cooperation in trade facilitation and the service sector, ensure smooth supply chains for vaccines, strengthen cooperation in smooth trade, increase vaccine accessibility and affordability, and push for widespread vaccination. Meanwhile, APEC economies stressed that trade and investment policies be more inclusive, and skill training as well as technological and financial support be provided for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), start-ups and women.

Second, sending a strong signal in support of the multilateral trading system. This includes enhancing the authority and efficacy of the multilateral trading system; discussing ways to improve the functioning of the World Trade Organization (WTO) with regards to dispute resolution and trade negotiations; making progress in initiatives for e-commerce, MSMEs and investment facilitation; and accelerating discussions on a temporary waiver of certain intellectual property protections on Covid-19 vaccines. Also, APEC economies will allow trade to play a positive role in addressing environmental issues, climate change and food security.

Third, renewing the commitment to regional economic integration. APEC economies will accelerate the development of a Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific to promote deep integration of the regional economy. As the pandemic has expedited digitization, APEC economies will attach greater importance to digital economy, encourage technological innovation and cultivate new business models.

Q2: What were China’s proposals and recommendations for cooperation at the meeting?

A2: This meeting focused on responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and upholding the multilateral trading system. Regarding these two topics, Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao put forward China’s proposals and recommendations at the meeting.

In responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic, China identified joint response as the top priority of the international community and introduced its practical steps to make Covid-19 vaccines a “global public good”, including offering vaccines and medical supplies to the international community. China supports Chinese vaccine companies to transfer their technologies to enable production cooperation and increase vaccine output. Also, China supports early decision by the WTO on a temporary waiver of certain intellectual property protections on Covid-19 vaccines and calls for a global community of health for all and a community with a shared future for Asia Pacific.

On supporting the multilateral trading system, China calls for resuming the normal functioning of the Appellate Body of the WTO, supports its necessary reforms which should be consistent with the common expectations and development needs of the WTO members. Expressing its commitment to actively contribute to the WTO negotiations, China calls for all parties to demonstrate flexibility, supports the MC12 scheduled to be held in the end of 2021 to reach agreement on the fisheries subsidies, pushes for positive progress in investment facilitation, e-commerce and other issues, and maintains the working momentum on, among others, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, women’s economic empowerment, and trade and environment.

China’s proposals and practical initiatives have been spoken highly of by APEC economies. Relevant proposals are reflected in the outcomes I just introduced.

How will this meeting’s outcomes impact businesses and people’s lives of the Asia Pacific region?

Since its inception, APEC has been committed to improving the well-being of the Asia Pacific region. After the outbreak of COVID-19, APEC trade ministers have released five statements regarding fighting the pandemic to safeguard people’s life and health of the APEC region and help businesses cope with the impacts of the virus. Judging from the outcomes of this meeting, the most direct impacts on businesses and people are reflected in the following three aspects:

First, proactive trade policies will give people access to reasonably priced and safe vaccines, which echos to China’s original purpose to advocate that vaccines should be made a global public good and to promote the building of a global community of health for all.

Second, the development of the Asia Pacific Free Trade Area will bring more business opportunities for the region. The entry into force and implementation of large FTAs such as RCEP will create a business environment that is fairer, more orderly and vibrant. With trade costs falling substantially, enterprises will embrace more development opportunities.

Third, within the region, micro, small and medium-sized companies, start-ups, women and other groups will gain more attention. These groups will see their capability to benefit from economic growth further enhanced, which will promote equitable development of all groups in the society.

(All information published on this website is authentic in Chinese. English is provided for reference only.)