KUALA LUMPUR — Members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have reiterated their commitment on Monday to pursuing free and open trade and investment as well as reinvigorating the efforts towards regional economic recovery and growth from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his opening remarks at the virtually-held APEC Ministerial Meeting (AMM), Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Mohamed Azmin Ali who chaired the meeting stressed the need for member economies to continue to resist the forces of protectionism and strengthen support to the multilateral trading system.

APEC economies have advanced the regional trade and investment agenda, as the commitment to the pursuit of free and open trade and investment are made “more imperative” during the difficult time, he said.

“This underscores the will and conviction of the Asia-Pacific to continue to resist the force of protectionism, in whatever form they may come,” he said.

Azmin also said Malaysia as the host of APEC this year has been leading the effort to finalize APEC’s Post-2020 Vision that is set to build on the success of Bogor Goals and will chart the long-term strategic direction for the region.

“I am tremendously honored that Malaysia is the lead penholder for this crucial document, one that envisions an open, dynamic and resilient Asia Pacific community built upon shared prosperity,” he said.

One of APEC’s flagship initiatives, the Bogor Goals were announced in 1994 for members to move towards the long-term goal of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific no later than the year 2020.

The AMM came ahead of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, which will be virtually held on Nov. 20, when the Post-2020 Vision is expected to be officially endorsed.

In a joint statement issued following the meeting, the ministers said they would work together to facilitate the movement of essential goods and services across borders and, without undermining efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, explore ways to facilitate the essential movement of people across borders.

“We will intensify information-sharing and skills development, as well as enhance APEC’s human security agenda in order to recover from COVID-19 and promote resilient and secure growth,” the statement said.

APEC is a regional economic forum established in 1989.

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