Asia-Pacific Group Aims to Keep Trade Moving Amid Pandemic

Ministers responsible for trade in Asia Pacific pledged Saturday to facilitate essential movement across borders, even as coronavirus cases surge across the region.

Any steps taken must not undermine efforts to contain the pandemic, and must be in accordance with World Trade Organization rules, according to a joint statement read out by Malaysian Trade Minister Azmin Ali, who chaired a virtual meeting with counterparts from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

The meeting comes as heavily trade-dependent economies in Asia Pacific find themselves particularly exposed to the global slowdown sparked by the pandemic. Spiraling tensions between the U.S. and China risk a renewal of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies, a threat to the global trading system.

The ministers encouraged countries to adopt digital solutions such as e-commerce to strengthen supply chains and keep business flowing across borders during the pandemic. They also vowed to facilitate the flow of essential goods and services and minimize disruptions to trade in medical goods, food and agriculture products, he added.

“We acknowledge the importance of cooperation on facilitating the flow of data and strengthening consumer and business trust in digital transactions,” Azmin said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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