The APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) convened yesterday in a virtual meeting chaired by YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Senior Minister and Minister of International Trade and Industry. This was the first time in the history of APEC that the MRT met in a fully virtual format. This is indeed a remarkable feat for Malaysia as the host of APEC 2020.

The convening of the Virtual MRT (VMRT) Meeting demonstrated Malaysia’s leadership in spearheading APEC’s new normal by providing its chairmanship in fully digital hosting format to the 21 APEC Economies. In addition, the meeting also saw the participation of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), as well as observers from the ASEAN Secretariat and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC).

Malaysia welcomes the VMRT Statement that was issued by the Ministers. The Statement clearly outlines APEC commitment to support the work of WTO, advance efforts in trade facilitation initiatives as well as strengthen the resilience of supply chains in APEC. The Statement also acknowledges the importance of a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment in APEC in order to drive economic recovery during this challenging time.

YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali who is the MRT Chair for 2020, provided leadership and worked closely with his colleagues to facilitate consensus, leading to the issuance of the VMRT Statement, which also references the Declaration on Facilitating the Movement of Essential Goods in APEC.

“Malaysia welcomes the Declaration as it marks the region’s unwavering commitment to ensure that there is minimal disruption to the flow of essential goods, during this time of crisis. This accomplishment is particularly meaningful as Malaysia was the original proponent of this Declaration,” Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin said.

Malaysia also welcomes the progress being made in other key initiatives in APEC in response to the COVID-19 pandemic such as facilitation efforts for the movement of people, a digital platform for information exchange as well as the proposal to create an APEC sub-fund for combatting COVID-19 and facilitating economic recovery.

Last but not least, Malaysia, as the Economy entrusted to lead the drafting of the Post-2020 Vision which will serve as the guiding document for APEC in the coming years, is encouraged by the Ministers call for a meaningful and achievable Vision.

Ministry of International Trade & Industry (MITI)

Senior Minister and Minister of International Trade and Industry Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali today urged the People’s Republic of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea to resort to greater partnership with ASEAN member countries in developing the COVID-19 vaccine.

At the Special ASEAN Plus Three Economic Ministers’ (AEM+3) Virtual Conference Meeting on COVID-19 Response held this afternoon, the Minister also made an earnest call for the grouping to further enhance collaborative efforts in facing and overcoming this crisis, noting that by pulling our resources together, we would have the capacity and capability to find a long and lasting solution. He added that creating synergy and unity is the key to success in the battle and AEM+3 must expand the scope of cooperation with solidarity, vision and leadership.

Azmin also urged ASEAN to consider en bloc measures to procure vaccines in order to increase the chances of vaccine availability for the region. Korea and China, being advanced on their vaccine trials, should also consider allowing ASEAN member states to produce vaccines to drive costs down and ensure mass availability and accelerate ASEAN as a region for biotech innovation.

Earlier in the morning, at the Special ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Virtual Conference Meeting on COVID-19 Response the Minister commended the private sector in fighting the pandemic jointly with the governments of ASEAN Member States. He stressed that the support from the private sector is crucial in supporting the initiatives taken by governments in addressing the adverse impact of the pandemic not only to the business community but also to the lives and livelihoods of the people in ASEAN.

“The strategic collaboration between governments and the private sector is indeed a manifestation of the ASEAN theme this year which is to act in a ‘Cohesive and Responsive’ manner in dealing with the challenges,” he added.

With regard to flattening the COVID-19 curve, the Minister noted that before the Movement Control Order, the infectivity rate was 3.55 and has been reduced to 0.3 now. Azmin also stressed that this pandemic is much more than a health crisis, which therefore requires a total and collective government-society response.

The Minister said that like other member states, Malaysia too has had to grapple with the challenge of striking the right balance between protecting lives as well as livelihoods, namely, between making the most strident efforts to contain the spread of the virus and taking vigorous initiatives at ensuring the viability of the economy.

In this regard, apart from successfully managing the COVID-19 situation from the health perspective, Malaysia has also introduced measures to bolster the economy, minimise job losses, protect incomes and secure the economic sustainability of the nation.

Malaysia implemented three Stimulus Packages worth RM280 billion aimed at supporting various parts of the community, encompassing informal sectors, families, the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and businesses.

According to the Minister, the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed a global socio- economic tsunami with severe repercussions on all economies big and small. As countries all over the world impose movement restriction orders in efforts to fight the outbreak, our economies suffer unintended consequences, creating extreme uncertainty on growth forecast.

At the AEM+3 meeting, Azmin thanked China, Korea and Japan for their assistance and support in the region’s battle against the pandemic and expressed concern with the rapid spread of the virus globally.

“Malaysia adopted a “targeted approach” in testing COVID-19 cases by zooming in on clusters of infections as well as identifying localities with high rates of infections, and tracing as well as testing their close contacts and immediate surroundings,” he said. The Minister commended frontliners for having worked tirelessly to stop the further spread of COVID-19 and reduce new cases of infection. On public-private partnership collaboration, the Minister said that Malaysia is in the process of developing a quantitative antigen test kit to detect the level of antibodies of an individual towards the virus causing the COVID-19 infection.

Azmin added that Malaysia has been offered to work with the World Health Organisation for the ‘Solidarity Trial’ research project in discovering a potential cure for COVID-19 and expressed confidence that with continued and collective capabilities, the region will be able to overcome this pandemic together ultimately.

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MINISTRY OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE & INDUSTRY (MITI)

THURSDAY, 4 JUNE 2020

A Special ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) meeting on COVID-19 Response as well as a Special ASEAN Plus Three Economic Ministers’ (AEM+3) meeting will be convened tomorrow as a virtual conference hosted by Viet Nam.

The meetings will focus on the collective actions and responses in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken to mitigate the unintended economic consequences.

Malaysia will share its experience and success in using the targeted approach in flattening the curve and lowering the infectivity rate while striking a balance between protecting lives and livelihoods. Malaysia will exchange views on the challenges faced in implementing the various movement control orders and our measures to reinvigorate the economy and businesses.

The conference will also discuss the efforts taken by member states toward research and development initiatives to find a cure for COVID-19. In this regard, Malaysia, which has been offered to work with the World Health Organisation for the “Solidarity Trial” research project, will share its perspectives in the development of a vaccine as well as treatment protocols.

The AEM+3 is expected to adopt the Joint ASEAN Plus Three Ministerial Statement on Mitigating the Economic Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali

Senior Minister

Minister of International Trade and Industry

3 June 2020