His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam recently joined The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Informal Leaders’ Retreat, which was held virtually via video conference from Baitul Mesyuarah, Istana Nurul Iman.
The APEC Meeting which was chaired by The Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand as Chairman of APEC for 2021, among other things, focused on the efforts of the economic and health sectors in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Asia-Pacific region.
At the meeting, His Majesty the Sultan in his titah, stressed the importance for APEC to continue close cooperation in addressing current challenges and shared three main points.
Firstly, economic recovery hinges on expediting the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations to the public.
APEC’s work should thus continue to complement international efforts in securing equitable and affordable access to vaccines as a global public good.
APEC is encouraged to explore cooperation in jointly producing COVID-19 vaccines and toolkits for the Asia-Pacific region.
Secondly, APEC economies should review their approach to economic development to better attain sustainable and inclusive growth.
Efforts such as empowering people; enhancing Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) productivity; building sustainable infrastructures and leveraging on innovative technologies are key elements in helping APEC economies adapt to the “new normal”.
These elements are also recognised as critical enablers in Brunei’s own journey towards a dynamic and sustainable economy by 2035, as envisaged in its Economic Blueprint.
Brunei, therefore, values close cooperation with APEC economies through the sharing of best practices and involvement in capacity-building initiatives.
Lastly, increasing international trade is crucial for global economic recovery.
APEC needs to ensure that global trade governance will rebuild confidence in the multilateral trading system and support economies in building back better.
Brunei Darussalam, therefore, appreciates APEC’s strong support for the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) work, and looks forward to successful outcomes at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference later this year.
As the world moves towards recovery, Brunei Darussalam remains committed to working with APEC economies in realising a better future for all, as envisioned in the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040.
Earlier in the meeting, the APEC Chairman for 2021, in her opening remarks highlighted that the meeting is an opportunity to renew commitments to engage with one another and build collaborative responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the meeting, the leaders observed presentations by Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF); and Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO), in which they agreed that the pandemic has underlined the lack of preparedness, coordination and resilience among APEC economies, thus it is important for economies to invest towards strong health systems.
This is in addition to the four areas that the IMF is looking at namely climate change, digital transformation, vulnerable communities and inclusive growth.
The leaders also emphasised the importance of ensuring equitable and affordable access to vaccinations; strengthening supply chains under a rules-based trading system and international order; as well as foster closer cooperation in facilitating the movement of essential goods.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand in her closing remarks, welcomed APEC’s commitment to strengthen health systems; sustain economies during the health crisis; and accelerate economic recovery with a focus on trade and inclusivity in leaving no one behind.
At the end of the Meeting, the Statement of the Informal APEC Leaders’ Retreat on COVID-19 was adopted.
This article was first published on 24 July 2021 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 151 | More stories here
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN