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ABAC and APEC Finance Ministers on inclusive and sustainable economic recovery

Last June 25, APEC Finance Ministers Meeting met with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) to share experiences on the impact of COVID-19 and exchange views on how economies respond to the pandemic. New Zealand Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson hosted the dialogue which dealt with the effects of COVID, the important and impactful policies to help businesses recover, and the key elements of an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery.

Minister Robertson, who is also chair of the 2021 Finance Ministers’ Process shared that fiscal and monetary policy must continue to play a role in combatting the impacts of the pandemic, but stimulus alone would not be sufficient. “The pandemic has enforced a need for complementary macroeconomic and structural policy,” he added. 

ABAC 2021 Chair Rachel Taulelei, meanwhile reiterated that addressing the ongoing pandemic should be the top priority of APEC economies. “Overcoming the health crisis and using widespread vaccination and testing for safe and seamless re-opening of borders as a pre-requisite for economic recovery,” Taulelei explained.

For ABAC Philippines’ Bill Luz, convenor of ABAC’s Disaster Recovery Planning and Risk Management Task Force, the impact of COVID is compounded by the effects of natural calamities, and this poses serious challenge towards achieving sustainable and inclusive economic recovery. 

APEC economies were among the first and worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The region accounts for about 29% of COVID cases and close to 34% of deaths globally.[1] Moreover, APEC is the world’s most exposed region to disasters and climate risks, accounting for over 80% of economic losses and more than 40% of the victims reported globally from 2000 to 2019. The region also faced 8 of 10 costliest earthquakes and 7 of 10 costliest floods between 2000 and 2018.[2]

“The ongoing fight against the pandemic, with the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters, as well as the constant threat of climate change are just too much to handle by the region, let alone any economy,” said Luz. “We need to strengthen public-private collaboration and coordinated action, and direct efforts particularly for the most vulnerable sectors and communities, so that no one is left behind as we recovery and build-back-better.”

Bill Luz outlined key considerations from the discussions in the ABAC Task Force, that is for APEC economies to:

  1. Adopt an all-of-APEC approach, with dedicated multiple-interface fora to address relevant disaster-related and pandemic issues including their impact to trade, food security, energy security, etc.
  2. Strengthen public-private engagement at the regional and economy-level to harness contributions, expertise and experience of APEC economies and all its stakeholders.
  3. Invest in and allocate adequate resources, including data, talent and financial technology necessary for the conduct of disaster preparedness models and post-disaster assessments.
  4. Develop a regional disaster and pandemic planning and policy toolkit with active engagement from government, private sector, and general community, and covers all stages of any kind of disaster from preparedness, prevention, and recovery.
  5. Integrate risk and mainstream recovery measures in development planning and infrastructure investments, with adequate funding and resources.
  6. Incorporate insurance models such as catastrophe bonds and other risk sharing schemes into their DRFI frameworks to protect against potentially huge losses from very severe catastrophes hitting the region.

[1] WHO Coronavirus Data and local sources for China and Taiwan, as of June 30, 2021.

[2] ADB and OECD. 2020. Leveraging Technology and Innovation for Disaster Risk Management and Financing. Manila/Paris

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APEC finance ministers and business leaders discuss COVID-19 recovery