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APEC: Why Trade is a Critical Response to COVID-19

Interesting insights By Krasna Bobenrieth

When COVID-19 first started to garner attention at the beginning of 2020, nobody foresaw the widespread health, economic and social impact it would have. While the world has experienced terrible pandemics before, it’s hard to remember one with such far reaching consequences in our lives, societies and economies, and that affected so many different parts of the world in such a short time.

The region has already been experiencing trade headwinds—the value of APEC exports and imports contracted by 2 to 3 percent in 2019, even before COVID-19 was in anyone’s vocabulary. Tensions related to trade and technology have been weighing down heavily on the region’s trade dynamism and will not contribute to the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Business as usual is no longer possible; neither for APEC—a forum dedicated to “equal partnership, shared responsibility, mutual respect, common interest, and common benefit.”

APEC’s strengths are particularly valuable during such times of uncertainty. We need to create a more resilient APEC region that can overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, speed up the economic recovery and be better prepared for future emergency situations. As such, the capacity of members to adjust and work on common priorities, to exchange best practices and to, collaboratively, find solutions to new challenges is of paramount importance.

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