Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) yesterday joined the trade ministers of 20 other APEC member states in a virtual conference and called for disease prevention materials to be exchanged through bilateral agreements.
APEC has 21 members, including Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, New Zealand and the US. Taiwan joined the organization under the name “Chinese Taipei.”
The Virtual APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting was chaired by Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Mohamed Azmin Ali, APEC said in a news release yesterday.
Photo provided by the Executive Yuan’s Office of Trade Negotiations
Yesterday’s meeting focused on how to maintain free and open trade and investment mechanisms amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Executive Yuan’s Office of Trade Negotiations said in a news release.
While the 21 members are in eight different time zones, the countries’ ministers still joined the important discussion, it said.
During the meeting, Deng highlighted Taiwan’s outstanding performance in controlling the pandemic, saying that the nation still had a GDP growth rate of 1.6 percent despite the pandemic.
Without locking down cities or suspending classes and business operations, Taiwan did not report large-scale community infections, he said.
Over the past few months, Taiwan has been able to operate normally, and had the capacity to provide other countries with medical supplies, showing that “Taiwan can help,” he added.
Nonetheless, no single country can claim itself a “winner” when is comes to the pandemic, Deng said.
Taiwan is happy to boost cooperation with other countries to tackle future challenges, he said.
Protecting people’s health should be a principle that is prioritized, and after that, governments should manage to maintain the circulation of critical materials, he said.
The trade ministers issued a joint statement after the virtual meeting.
“We acknowledge the importance of a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment to drive economic recovery at such a challenging time,” the statement on APEC’s Web site read.
“We are committed to ensure that emergency measures designed to tackle COVID-19 are targeted, proportionate, transparent, temporary, do not create unnecessary barriers to trade or disruption to global supply chains, and are consistent with WTO rules,” it said.
The ministers also highlighted the need to establish a digital platform for information exchange and the needs to empower all sectors of the community, including micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, while reiterating their concern about the pandemic’s impact on vulnerable developing economies.
They also issued a declaration on facilitating the flow of essential goods, which included that emergency trade measures designed to tackle COVID-19 must be consistent with WTO rules and that member economies are expected to abide by the International Health Regulations of 2005.
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan
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