Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Trade Ministers have committed to speeding up the cross-border flow of Covid-19 vaccines and related goods to fight the global pandemic.
The pledge came following the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting chaired by New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O'Connor, Xinhua news agency reported.
"As we face the biggest health and economic crisis of our lifetimes, I was greatly heartened to see how we united to make progress. We represent half of global GDP and wanted to use trade as a force for good," O'Connor said in a statement on Sunday.
"We know nobody is safe until everybody is safe from COVID-19, and we know that our region prospers economically by keeping our markets open to one another rather than closing ourselves off."
He said the APEC Trade Ministers agreed to speed up the flow of jabs and vaccine-related goods by eliminating trade restrictions that increase the cost.
They also agreed to a set guidelines for the customs authorities to ensure quick vaccines flow, and to remove barriers to freight and logistics services to support trade in vaccines and vaccine-related goods.
"It is encouraging to see APEC trade ministers working together to respond in practical, concrete terms to the Covid pandemic and rebuild our economies," he said.
New Zealand Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth Phil Twyford said the APEC had returned to its traditional role of championing multilateralism by rejuvenating the World Trade Organization (WHO) and injecting momentum into a series of trade negotiations with the aim of concluding these by the end of this year.
New Zealand is hosting APEC 2021 with more than 300 meetings scheduled across the country.
APEC is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific region.
Its 21 members aim to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.