KUALA LUMPUR: The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Ministerial Meeting which commences tomorrow is expected to outline extraordinary measures to drive post-Covid-19 recovery and prosperity.

To be chaired by Senior Minister cum Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, this year’s virtual meeting will be a continuation of the region’s efforts in driving economic prosperity for all.

This was, after all, a vision which was agreed on at the 26th Apec Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Papua New Guinea two years ago; when APEC economies were riding high on their robust economic growth outlook.

But today, the region’s healthcare as well as economic systems have been stricken by the effects from the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in millions of small businesses fighting for survival and uncountable jobs losses.

Some analysts even expect Apec economies’ real gross domestic product to contract by 2.7 per cent this year — worse than the near-zero growth recorded in 2009 amidst the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

Given the challenges, observers praised Apec economies for having done a commendable job as the governments acted swiftly to address the issue.

Their exceptional fiscal and monetary measures helped to bolster health systems while providing direct support to households and businesses, including micro, small and medium enterprises.

Malaysia, for instance, has allocated RM1.8 billion this year to implement the movement control order (MCO) measures and meet Covid-19-related public health services’ needs, and has allocated an additional RM1 billion for the same purposes under 2021 Budget.

The government had also launched four economic stimulus packages worth a total of RM305 billion to protect the people’s well-being, while ensuring business sustainability and job retention.

Meanwhile, in July, the Apec Ministers Responsible for Trade had also agreed on a joint Declaration on Facilitating the Movement of Essential Goods during a meeting which was also chaired by Mohamed Azmin.

The declaration recognises the importance of ensuring continuous flow of trade during the pandemic and facilitating the flow of essential goods such as medical supplies and essential equipment.

In a recent interview with Bernama, Mohamed Azmin has urged Apec trade ministers to continue working towards greater and coordinated multilateral cooperation to achieve sustainable economic recovery.

“I am aware of the need for Malaysia to lead Apec in addressing this crisis through collective regional commitment and fortitude,” he said.

The meeting will also discuss economic recovery post-Covid-19 to ensure sustainability, resilience and development of Apec economies.

He said the pandemic has become a catalyst for Apec in adapting to new norms and accelerating the adoption of technology in regional economic recovery efforts.

On the Post-2020 Vision, Mohamed Azmin said it is currently being refined, adding that as a host, Malaysia will propose for the vision’s name to be based on a place or location in the country.

He noted that the name will become a reference point, similar to the Bogor Goals which was introduced in Bogor, Indonesia in 1994.

“The Post-2020 Vision will become a long-term guideline in revitalising trade, investment and regional cooperation,” he said. – Bernama