APEC finance ministers agree to step up vaccine efforts
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) finance ministers agreed on Friday to step up efforts to expand COVID-19 vaccine manufacture and supply and work together to ensure a sustainable and inclusive recovery, host nation New Zealand said in a statement.
New Zealand Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson chaired the virtual Finance Ministers' Meeting of the APEC from Wellington.
The ministers agreed to use all available policy tools to address COVID-19 and said they would maintain macroeconomic and financial stability and refrain from competitive exchange rate devaluations.
"The pandemic has caused a rapid rise in public debt and demands for new spending continue to grow as we recover. More than ever, we need to use our resources effectively," Robertson said.
Despite a sharp drop in infections and rising vaccinations in wealthy APEC nations, there are concerns that few shots have reached smaller, poorer countries where the virus still rages. The World Health Organization has spoken about the risks and inequality of such "vaccine apartheid".
Ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in Glasgow later this month, Robertson called on members to ensure sufficient capital was in place to drive a shift towards a lower carbon future, including the use of fiscal funding tools, and exploring partnerships with the private sector.
"As we work to bring the pandemic to an end, we must not lose sight of the broader challenges affecting our region, including climate change and inequality," he said.
The APEC virtual meeting was also attended by representatives of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Monetary Fund, among others.
Established in 1989, the APEC is an inter-governmental forum for 21 member economies in the Asia-Pacific region that promotes free trade and economic integration throughout the region.