Leaders of the Asia-Pacific APEC trade group, including U.S. President Joe Biden, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping, pledged Friday to work to expand the sharing and manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines to fight the global pandemic.
Leaders, struggling to tame focolai aggravated by the Delta variant, they said they would encourage the voluntary transfer of vaccine production technologies “on terms of mutual agreement” as the region prepares for future health shocks.
“The pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on the people and economies of our region,” the leaders said in a joint statement released after a virtual meeting chaired by New Zealand.
“We will only overcome this health emergency by accelerating equitable access to safe, effective, quality-assured and affordable COVID-19 vaccines,” they added.
APEC leaders met virtually to discuss collective actions to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects.
New Zealand, the seat of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, said this week that it will chair the extraordinary meeting ahead of a formal meeting in November, the first time such an additional meeting has been held.
“Our discussions have taken us beyond vaccine nationalism. We are now focusing on all aspects of contributing to the global vaccination effort – making vaccines, sharing vaccines and using vaccines,” said the New Zealand Prime Minister. Jacinda Ardern after the meeting. She said leaders have agreed that this will not be the world’s last pandemic and that preparation was critical.
The meeting highlights the growing concerns surrounding COVID-19, which is raging in the region as countries including Indonesia, Thailand and Australia face new waves of infections.
Putin told the group that global barriers to vaccine production and delivery needed to be removed, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga expressed his determination to his fellow leaders to hold a safe and secure Olympics.
Despite their decision-making process, there are tensions between APEC members, especially between the West and China – over issues ranging from the origin of the coronavirus to trade, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the Sea. of South China.
As the meeting concluded, Washington announced sanctions on seven Chinese individuals for Beijing’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, its latest effort to hold Beijing responsible for what it calls an erosion of the rule of law in the former British colony.
The United States and China have one troubled report and have had little high-level contact, face-to-face under Biden’s administration since March meeting among senior officials in Alaska, where the Chinese side has expressed anger over U.S. sanctions announced just before negotiations.
At the APEC meeting, Biden discussed investing in better global health security and preparedness to deal with potential future pandemics, the White House said Friday.
Biden also stressed the importance of multilateral cooperation and reiterated his commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, he said in a statement. He underlined the importance the United States attaches to the region and promised that “the United States will remain deeply engaged” here “for generations to come,” the White House said.
The group includes the world’s three largest economies and poor nations such as Papua New Guinea, as well as members at very different points in the COVID-19 cycle, which provides further challenges for consensus building.
This APEC consensus model has been put to the test in recent years, with the group unable to agree on a statement at its 2018 meeting in Papua New Guinea, driven by differences between China and the president. then American, Donald Trump.
The 2019 APEC meeting in Chile was canceled due to protests while the one in Malaysia last year was postponed when officials angrily organized a virtual meeting when the pandemic closed the world.
In June, APEC trade ministers agreed to review trade barriers and speed up the cross-border transit of COVID-19 and well-connected vaccines, but stood by a broad commitment to remove tariffs that New Zealand was pushing.
There have been more than 50 million cases of COVID-19 at APEC borders, with more than 1 million deaths. Gross national product outside of APEC will contract by 1.9 percent by 2020.