World leaders pledge to double the fight against the epidemic at the special APEC meeting Reuters


© Reuters. File picture: Leaders participated in the APEC summit retreat held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on November 18, 2018.REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo


Author: Pravin Menon

Wellington (Reuters)-The leaders of the Asia-Pacific Trade Organization APEC, including US President Joe Biden, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and China’s Xi Jinping, pledged on Friday to work to expand the sharing and manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines To fight the global pandemic.

Leaders of various countries are working to contain the outbreak exacerbated by the delta variant of the coronavirus, and they said that as the region prepares for future health shocks, they will encourage the voluntary transfer of vaccine production technology “on mutually agreed terms.”

“The pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on the people and economy in our region,” the leaders said in a joint statement after a virtual meeting hosted by New Zealand.

They said: “We can overcome this health emergency only by accelerating equitable access to safe, effective, quality-assured and affordable COVID-19 vaccines.”

APEC leaders held a virtual meeting to discuss collective actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact.

New Zealand, the rotating host of APEC, said this week that it will host this special meeting before the formal meeting in November, which is the first time such an additional meeting has been held.

“Our discussions have moved us beyond vaccine nationalism. Now we are focusing on all aspects that contribute to global vaccination efforts-making vaccines, sharing vaccines, and using vaccines,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the meeting Said later. She said that leaders agree that this will not be the last pandemic in the world and preparations are crucial.

The meeting highlighted the growing concerns about COVID-19, which is raging in the region as countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Australia face a new wave of infections.

U.S.-China tensions

The White House stated that Biden emphasized the importance of multilateral cooperation and his commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

It said in a statement: “President Biden also discussed the importance of investing in better global health security and preparedness so that we can prepare for the next pandemic.”

Putin told the organization that global barriers to vaccine production and delivery need to be eliminated. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga expressed his determination to host a safe and secure Olympic Games.

Despite their determination, there are tensions among APEC members, especially between the West and China, over issues ranging from the origin of the coronavirus to trade, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and the South China Sea.

At the end of the meeting, Washington announced that it would impose sanctions on seven Chinese who had been suppressed by Beijing for repressing democracy in Hong Kong. This was the latest move to hold Beijing responsible for the erosion of the rule of law in its former British colony.

The relationship between the United States and China is in trouble. Since the meeting of senior officials in Alaska in March, under the leadership of the Biden administration, the two sides have had almost no high-level, face-to-face contact. China has expressed anger at the sanctions just announced by the United States. Talks.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said that China’s Xi Jinping gave a pre-recorded video speech at the meeting and did not attend. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

The APEC Group includes the world’s three major economies and poor countries such as Papua New Guinea, as well as members at very different points in the COVID-19 cycle, providing further challenges for reaching consensus.

The APEC consensus model has been tested in recent years. Due to differences between China and the then U.S. President Donald Trump, the organization was unable to reach an agreement on the communiqué at the 2018 Papua New Guinea Conference.

The 2019 APEC meeting in Chile was cancelled due to protests, while the meeting held in Malaysia last year was put on hold because the pandemic blocked the world and officials hurriedly organized a virtual meeting.

In June of this year, the APEC Minister of Trade agreed to review trade barriers and expedite the cross-border transit of COVID-19 vaccines and related commodities, but failed to make broad commitments to New Zealand’s promotion of tariff elimination.

There have been more than 50 million COVID-19 cases in APEC, and more than 1 million deaths. In 2020, GDP within the scope of APEC contracted by 1.9%.

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