Sydney, Australia, Nov 10 (EFE).- The ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries reiterated a “strong stance” against Covid-19 vaccine nationalism and supported the end of subsidies for fisheries and fossil fuels, New Zealand representatives said Wednesday at the end of their meeting.
“Seventeen APEC economies have either lowered or completely removed tariffs on vaccines and related products making them easier to access,” New Zealand’s Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor said at a virtual press conference from Wellington on Wednesday after the APEC ministerial meeting held over Nov. 8 and 9.
“It was heartening to hear that no APEC economy has introduced vaccine export restrictions since we discussed a shared response to vaccine nationalism back in June,” he added.
In the meeting that took place ahead of the virtual summit of APEC leaders to be held on Nov. 12 and 13, the ministers also pledged in their joint declaration to strengthen free trade, increase inclusion and sustainability, and pursue innovation and digitization in order to boost post-pandemic economic recovery.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused losses of $1.2 trillion due to a halt in activities as a result of travel restrictions and border closures, according to the joint statement.
Looking ahead to the upcoming 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the end of the month, APEC ministers also expressed their support for WTO negotiations to end subsidies for fisheries and agriculture in order to ensure global food security and the development of a sustainable economy.
APEC ministers “called for the conclusion of fishery subsidies negotiations and an end to harmful agricultural subsidies,” O’Connor said.
This call comes after the WTO released a revised negotiating draft on Monday, after 20 years of talks on fisheries subsidies, in order to promote an agreement among its 164 member countries, which includes flexibility for developing and least developed countries, but does not add changes to the future of fossil fuel subsidies.
The APEC ministers pledged to fight climate change by rationalizing and progressively phasing out of the use of fossil fuels, which includes an elimination of subsidies on these polluting products.
“Ministers also discussed the importance of promoting a low-emission climate resilient future for the region,” New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said, adding that while APEC accounts for 60 percent of the world’s GDP, “the same percentage is also true for emissions.”
The economies that make up APEC, which was founded in 1989, are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, South Korea, the United States, Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. EFE