SINGAPORE – Leaders from the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) member economies will meet virtually at a special summit on Friday (July 16), to shape a regional response to the recovery from Covid-19.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will attend the virtual Apec Informal Leaders’ Retreat on Covid-19, said the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday (July 12) in response to media queries.
This is the first time Apec leaders have held an additional meeting before their formal year end gathering, due in November.
It reflects the desire to address the impact of the pandemic, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement on Monday.
“Apec economies have suffered their biggest contraction since the Second World War over the past year, with 81 million jobs lost. Responding collectively is vital to accelerate the economic recovery for the region,” Ms Ardern said.
At the retreat, she will be inviting discussions on immediate measures to achieve more coordinated regional action to assist recovery, as well as steps to support inclusive and sustainable growth over the long term.
A virtual media conference will be held after the retreat to share the outcomes.
There have been more than 50 million cases of Covid-19 within Apec’s borders, with over one million deaths.
Apec-wide gross domestic product contracted by 1.9 per cent last year, the biggest fall since World War II. While economic growth is recovering, around 81 million jobs have been lost due to the pandemic.
The economic forum, which includes the United States, China and Japan, agreed last month to review trade barriers and expedite the cross-border transit of Covid-19 vaccines and related goods, but stopped short of a broad commitment to remove tariffs.
New Zealand has said leading a regional response to the pandemic is its highest priority as the Apec chair.