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Coronavirus

APEC ministers agree to expedite COVID-19 vaccine trade

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Ministers of the APEC trade group on Saturday agreed to improve efforts to expedite the trade of COVID-19 vaccines and medical material across the region.

The June 4-5 meeting of the trade officials, chaired by New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor, was held online due to the pandemic.

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In a joint statement, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade ministers said they agreed on “the essential role of trade in tackling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and in enabling a strong economic recovery.”

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The statement said they agreed to make sure that “the trading environment supports the safe and efficient distribution of COVID-19 vaccines” and related goods.

“In particular, we highlight the integral role freight and logistics suppliers can play in the production, distribution, and sale of vaccines and medical supplies,” the statement read.

APEC brings together 21 Pacific Rim countries and accounts for about 60 percent of global GDP.

The trade ministers agreed to meet again for an update in November.

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