Informal Media Roundtable with APEC Experts Towards APEC to MRT 2022: Recovering from COVID-19 and Global Disruptions
On 16 May 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the APEC Secretariat jointly organised an Informal Media Roundtable with APEC Experts under the topic “Towards APEC MRT 2022: Recovering from COVID-19 and Global Disruptions” at Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok. The session provided an opportunity for Thai and foreign media to get insights and updates from experts on where things stand in terms of achieving the deliverables for APEC 2022. As the host of APEC2022, Thailand will ensure that the APEC process continues to move ahead amidst these disruptions through the three priorities – “Open. Connect. Balance.”
The session was participated by 14 representatives from Thai and Foreign media. Mr. Cherdchai Chaivaivid, the Director-General of the Department of International Economic Affairs and APEC Thai SOM, addressed the progress during the 2nd APEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM2) in three aspects of APEC 2022 Thailand’s theme as follows:
- Open to all opportunities
The Second APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting is paving the way for the upcoming APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting, especially for a refreshed dialogue on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in the post-COVID-19 context. This will help create a framework for the region’s trade and investment scheme that can respond to new challenges. The successful MRT will be the first deliverable achieved under APEC2022 and contribute to meaningful outcomes at the upcoming 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in June.
- Connect in all dimensions
The APEC Safe Passage Taskforce is a key mechanism aimed to facilitate APEC economies to promote safe and seamless cross-border travel. The meeting provided an opportunity for APEC economies to share experiences and best practices in facilitating cross-border travel and to follow up on the development of key safe passage proposals, 3 of which are from Thailand. These include (1) APEC information portal for safe passage across the region to develop a one-stop information portal of APEC economies’ cross-border travel requirements; (2) Interoperability of vaccination verification systems through sharing of technical specifications to help facilitate faster and more effective verification of health documents required for cross-border travel; (3) Proposal for a more inclusive ABTC to expand the scheme’s scope to cover a broader range of businesses such as MSMEs and mid-level managers; (4) The Non-Binding Principles for the Interoperability of Vaccination Certificates in the APEC Region proposed by Australia, which has also received broad base support by APEC economies. These proposals help promote APEC resilience against future disruptions and will be the first step in achieving key deliverables under “Connect.”
- Balance in all aspects
Thailand’s host year to drive APEC towards a more balanced and sustainable future. Thailand proposed the development of “Bangkok Goals on BCG Economy” as one of the key deliverables. The initiative began in December 2021 at the APEC Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting held at Phuket, leading to a zero draft which will be discussed at SOM2. The document emphasizes the whole-of-society and whole-of-APEC-system approach to achieve four goals, namely (1) shifting climate action that includes achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions; (2) addressing sustainable trade and investment; (3) emphasizing sustainable management of resources and the conservation of the environment and biodiversity; and (4) focusing on resource efficiency and sustainable waste management.
In addition, Mr. Rachavitch Piyapramote, Minister (Commercial) and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and Mr. Carlos Kuriyama, Senior Analyst of the APEC Policy Support Unit, shared their views in the session to emphasize the need for cooperation among APEC economies to ensure recovery from supply chain disruptions and border closures. In the past five years, the Asia-Pacific region was directly affected by cross-border trade barriers. As a result, production costs have increased six-folds. These pressing issues were reflected in discussions within APEC SOM2 and other relevant processes, including the Public-Private Dialogue, which is also key to driving actions under the APEC framework.