Towards Connectivity in All Dimension: Realising Safe and Seamless Cross-Border Travel at APEC SOM2
Thailand, as host of APEC 2022, recognises the utmost importance of facilitating the resumption of safe and convenient cross-border travel to the region’s speedy and robust economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Second APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and related meetings continues to push forward the APEC’s safe passage agenda to realise Thailand’s host year priority under “Connect in All Dimensions” and deliver the key deliverable of reconnecting the region safely and seamlessly. The APEC Safe Passage Taskforce (SPTF) established this year following Thailand’s recommendation to coordinate APEC’s effort on safe passage, convened its second meeting on 16 May 2022, which was chaired by Mr. Cherdchai Chaivaivid, Thailand SOM.
The Second APEC Safe Passage Taskforce (SPTF2) Meeting built on discussions from the first SPTF Meeting held during SOM1 on 21 February 2022 (see meeting’s summary: https://www.apec2022.go.th/th/apec-safe-passage-taskforce-en/). The meeting provided an opportunity for APEC economies to share experiences and best practices in facilitating cross-border travel and to follow up on 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.
In addition, the meeting also discussed new proposals from Russia, Philippines and US. These proposals will facilitate resumption of safe and seamless cross-border travel in the APEC region as well as promote long-term business mobility and resilience against future disruptions.
The regions’ travel and tourism industries in particular will greatly benefit from APEC’s ongoing effort to facilitate the resumption of safe and seamless cross-border travel, which will in turn contribute to region’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many APEC member economies have adopted more open border policies, the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and remains uncertain. Thailand and APEC therefore must stay vigilant and continue to build the region’s long-term resilience and preparedness for future pandemics and disruptions.