- Font type:
On June 4-5, 2021, a meeting of APEC trade ministers was held in the format of a videoconference chaired by New Zealand, as well as the preceding Ministerial Dialogue with the APEC Business Advisory Council. The Russian delegation was headed by the Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov.
The agenda focuses on the role of trade policy in overcoming the economic consequences of the pandemic, as well as the Forum's contribution to achieving actual results by the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC-12).
Together with the Director General of the WTO N. Okonjo-Iweala, we substantively discussed preparations for the key trade and political event of this year - the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference and priority issues on which tangible agreements should be reached. They included the completion of negotiations on fishing subsidies, the intensification of negotiations on agriculture, agreements to enhance transparency. APEC members also intends to reflect in the MС-12 results the results of work in the field of e-commerce, internal regulation in the service sector, simplification of investment procedures, and support for International health regulations.
Particular emphasis was placed on the issues of the WTO reform, including in terms of restoring its dispute settlement function. “We are ready to work on improving it, but the existence of the Appellate Body in the reform process should not be questioned. The key principles of the two-stage dispute resolution system must be preserved,” Maxim Reshetnikov said.
Special attention was paid to trade and health issues. Agreements in the WTO in this area, including in terms of a temporary and balanced TRIPS-waiver (temporary suspension of certain obligations of the WTO Agreement on trade aspects of intellectual property rights protection), promoting the development of global vaccine production, can “in practice” contribute to combating the pandemic and its consequences. APEC's progressive practices in this area were also discussed - simplifying access to vaccines became one of the key topics on the agenda of the ministerial meeting. “Excessive trade restrictions on vaccines need to be removed, including discrimination based on country of origin. It is also important to simplify import and export procedures, measures at the border, procedures for registering vaccines, while simplifying access to financing for their purchase,” the head of the Ministry of Economic Development emphasized. “We also need to work together to create a favorable environment to scale up global vaccine production - removing constraints on investment involved in overseas manufacturing.”
The issues of the contribution of trade policy to the climate agenda was of special interest. Economies outlined further steps on liberalizing trade in eco-goods and services. Minister Reshetnikov also noted the importance of jointly combating protectionism “under the guise” of measures aimed at combating climate change and its consequences. The participants agreed that all “climate” trade measures should comply with WTO rules and should not lead to discriminatory restrictions.
The Russian party also shared its vision of APEC's place in the global economic agenda in the framework of the Dialogue with the business community that took place on June 4.
The two-day meeting resulted in the adoption of a Joint Statement by APEC Trade Ministers, as well as two Annexes - APEC Statements on COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Chains and on the Services Accompanying the Movement of Essential Goods.