The borderless nature of epidemics such as COVID-19 makes regional cooperation and policy coordination imperative, said Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat executive director Tan Sri Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, as reported on Bernama
Hence she described the information-sharing session to be held at the virtual meeting of APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG) tomorrow, during which volunteer economies would present their practices in response to COVID-19, as “essential”.
“If carried through, this exercise would translate to unilateral developments in best practices-based policies which were found in many member economies. The best-case scenario is that these are applied multilaterally across the region,” she said in the APEC Bulletin released yesterday.
Sta Maria noted that positive outcomes should not end there.
“International forums have been criticised for being talk shops, but discussion today would lead to outcomes tomorrow. In this case, the desired outcome is better resilience as a region against the next disaster,” she said.
According to her, this means building capacity to immediately deploy emergency services and maintain them over long periods.
“We should (also) make certain our economies have the ability to cushion even the poorest citizens and smallest businesses from economic fallout, the wherewithal to keep institutions functioning and to keep trade going and food and supplies flowing,” she said.
Sta Maria said APEC, comprising 21 member economies, needed to be quick in implementing economic policies and decisive in its use of reconstruction resources.
According to her, APEC economies have the most varied and extensive experience in dealing with calamities, from earthquakes to wildfires, super typhoons and pandemics.
“As a non-binding, informal and flexible organisation, the APEC forum was designed to be a test kitchen for creative solutions. It would therefore be an ideal contributor to any conversation about an effective multilateral response to unexpected crises,” she said.