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Reject protectionism, work on closer cooperation, Muhyiddin tells APEC

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KUALA LUMPUR,. Malaysia is calling for closer cooperation from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies in facilitating the movement of essential goods and to reject trade protectionism.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said as the economies weave through the COVID-19 spread, managing lockdowns, surges in cases and production down-times, inevitably the flow of global trade would keep getting disrupted unless this issue is being addressed promptly and collectively.

The APEC region must not be seen to be the anti-thesis to open trade and investment, he said.”We must reject protectionism by not introducing new trade restrictive measures during this critical time while innovating new initiatives to facilitate the supply chain

“One quick-win for APEC is something we do naturally and efficiently, which is sharing of information.

“This simple collective effort would go to great lengths in increasing the visibility of the supply chain to reduce risks, address bottlenecks, avoid exorbitant pricing and scarcity of supply,” he said in his speech at the APEC Informal Leaders’ Retreat held virtually today.

Muhyiddin said although some economies have returned to a certain level of normalcy, many are still grappling to regain economic stability, therefore it is necessary for all economies to take immediate and steadfast actions collectively.

Another important point highlighted by the prime minister was that APEC economies must strengthen their collaboration towards equitable, affordable and accessible COVID-19 vaccines for all.

He said that with the spread of highly transmissible new variants, COVID-19 vaccine is the lifeline for the people and that the stark global vaccination gap should not be a hurdle in the effort to achieve herd immunity.

No economy should be left at the end of the COVID-19 vaccine line, he said.

“While underscoring the importance of preserving incentives for innovations, Malaysia supports global initiatives to boost global vaccine capacities, including through negotiation at the World Trade Organisation on the temporary waiver of certain provisions of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement.

“This is a step in the right direction because extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures,” he said.

The prime minister acknowledged that negotiations consume time and pleaded for the vaccine producing economies to avoid vaccine stockpiling and share the vaccines with economies in need.

Vaccine nationalism and vaccine stockpiling are counter-productive in all efforts to increase the global vaccination rate and clear the path for recovery across economies, he said.

Muhyiddin also highlighted that the reopening of international borders during this pandemic is precarious and that extremely careful planning and high level of confidence is required from all parties.

He called for APEC economies to discuss the potential regulatory coherence on the establishment of travel bubbles and quarantine arrangements, or mutual recognition of vaccination certification documents, without undermining the global requirements set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the World Health Organisation.

“When the time is right, all these practical solutions would be the answer in facilitating seamless people-to-people connectivity in the region,” he added.

The informal retreat, which is traditionally held in November every year for the annual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM), was chaired by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

— BERNAMA

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