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Duterte, APEC leaders push for stronger cooperation on pandemic response



President Rodrigo Duterte joined other Asia-Pacific leaders in calling for stronger international cooperation to fast-track global economic recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Duterte, during the 28th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting held via videoconference, underscored the need for collaboration among countries to aid states with weak domestic systems and pre-pandemic economic challenges.

“Closer international cooperation is needed to address these constraints and to ensure that all countries recover from this crisis,” the Philippine leader said in his speech at the summit held Friday.

Duterte stressed that APEC’s 21 member-economies need improved risk management systems, better response and mitigation measures, and stronger support mechanisms for vulnerable communities.

To achieve these goals, the President called for the creation of an integrated system on vaccine passport validation and contact tracing, institutionalization of social protection for non-traditional forms of employment, and promotion of transnational education and digital inclusion in APEC economies.

Other state leaders like United States President Joe Biden also cited the importance of partnership among nations to push for open trade and investment and improve pandemic response of governments. 

At the summit, Biden also underscored his commitment in strengthening Washington’s relationship with the trade organization to develop and promote Internet services, cybersecurity, and digital economy standards among its member-economies.

China’s President Xi Jinping also emphasized during the meeting the importance of economic and technological cooperation, vowing that Beijing would “unswervingly” expand its development opportunities with the world and Asia-Pacific countries.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, as host of this year’s APEC summit, also rallied the trading bloc’s leaders to emerge together from the global crisis and set a new path for the organization as a stronger international forum in tackling the Asia-Pacific’s most important challenges.

“There is no single Covid-19 situation in APEC — every economy’s experience is different, and we’re all adapting to our own circumstances driven by our own unique management of the virus. Nonetheless, we face the same fundamental questions,” Arden said at her opening statement in the forum.

“Today is also a chance to look to the future, as we seek to emerge from this crisis better than before,” she added.

APEC leaders also discussed efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change, with President Duterte renewing his call for developed countries to fulfill their commitment to climate financing, technology transfer, and capacity-building in poor economies.

Duterte reiterated his appeal as he noted the challenges of developing nations like the Philippines to shift into “green” or low-carbon economies.

“Developing economies such as the Philippines contribute the least to climate change, but we are the most vulnerable to its disastrous consequences. And the cost of transitioning to a green economy is too high for developing countries to afford. This is the simple truth,” he said.

APEC is the last multilateral meeting of the year and comes after a series of global gatherings, including the high-profile G20 summit in Rome and the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow.

Apart from the Philippines, US, China, and New Zealand, APEC’s 21-member economies include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.