Thailand Joins APEC in Shaping Collective Responses to COVID-19

Prime Minister and Defense Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has joined other APEC leaders in discussing constructive cooperation, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery to move through the health crisis.

The Prime Minister on 16 July 2021 attended the APEC Informal Leaders’ Retreat, hosted by New Zealand, via a teleconference. According to Government Spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri, the Prime Minister proposed four key approaches at the meeting.

First, he emphasized equitable access and immediate distribution of safe COVID-19 vaccines for all as the top priority to move through the COVID-19 crisis. Thailand welcomes increased multilateral collaboration and commitments to provide vaccines globally. With the new variants of COVID-19 being highly transmissible, and the need for a booster shot of vaccines, there is the need to enhance and diversify vaccine production and manufacturing capacities in all regions, including the Asia-Pacific. Thailand’s medical and research teams are researching and domestically developing various types of COVID-19 vaccines, some of which are now at the human trial stage.

Second, he stated that risk management is a way forward to enable everyone to coexist with the virus in the new normal way, and they must contain it at a manageable level. The country has resumed cross-border movements through the launch of the “Phuket Sandbox” scheme and the “Samui Plus Model,” as part of the effort for economic recovery. In the longer term, Thailand sees the merits of a common travel arrangement and mutual recognition of vaccination certificates, especially for vaccines listed by WHO for emergency use, to facilitate and stimulate international travel and tourism in the region, and urges APEC, as an incubator of ideas, to continue working seriously on this issue to achieve a concrete solution soon.

Third, the Prime Minister suggested that that MSMEs and startups be prioritized, as they are the region’s engine of growth but were most severely hit by COVID-19. Tangible initiatives may be implemented. Efforts should also focus on their transition to the new normal and build flexibility and resilience against future shocks and crises.

Fourth, the Prime Minister emphasized the “just right” and “balance” of human activities and environment. Thailand looks forward to sharing the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy Model to concretely advance APEC’s work on sustainability and green agenda. The heart of the BCG economy is to keep all economic units in balance to reduce global warming and severe natural disasters. In this particular issue, the Prime Minister urged all APEC economic leaders to cooperate concretely for sustainability.

An outcome document was endorsed at the APEC Informal Leaders’ Retreat to focus on economic and healthcare responses in three dimensions: (1) Secure, balanced, inclusive, and sustainable growth: building flexibility of the public healthcare system against current and future impacts, and implementing economic stimulus measures, especially those that contribute to tackling the climate change; (2) Innovation and digitalization: harnessing innovations that enable people and businesses to emerge stronger; and 3) Trade and investment: promoting trade and investment to enable a strong economic recovery. The World Trade Organization is expected to deliver tangible results that support the recovery from the health and economic crisis.

Source: The Government Public Relations Department

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