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APEC Trade Ministers Call for Open Markets and Supply Chains

Amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade ministers have joined other multilateral organizations in encouraging governments to keep markets open, supply chains flowing and promote a free, fair and transparent trade and investment environment.

In a statement released on May 5, the APEC ministers said their member states would work together to “facilitate the flow of essential goods and services to fight the pandemic including medicines, medical supplies and equipment, agriculture and food products and other supplies across borders, and minimise disruptions to the global supply chains.”

The ministers also said it is important for countries to act swiftly to provide timely and affordable access to essential health care services, especially for the most vulnerable populations, and implement measures to further enhance the resilience, scalability and sustainability of healthcare systems.

APEC senior officials are developing a coordinated approach to collecting and sharing information on current policies and measures, including stimulus packages to respond to the immediate economic crisis as well as long-term recovery packages. This should include encouraging cooperation in the area of intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement as a means to promote continued investment and innovation for medical technologies, treatments and vaccines.

APEC has a strong record of advocating IP protection and enforcement as key factors to promote trade and investment and boost economic development. At a time when economies across Asia-Pacific are confronting both an unprecedent health crisis and an economic slowdown, this is an opportune moment to reinforce the benefits of innovation.

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