They agreed to further advance economic integration in the region, in a manner that is market-driven, including through the work on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) agenda which will contribute to high quality and comprehensive regional undertakings.
They stressed the importance of a rule-based multilateral trading system and backed the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s reform efforts.
Many of them spoke highly the significance of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement freshly signed at the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits.
The ministers also discussed orientations for APEC cooperation in the time to come, and agreed to beef up cooperation in trade and investment, sustainable and inclusive growth, and digital economic development.
In the second session on inclusiveness, digital economy and sustainable innovation, the participants showed their support for the promotion of digital platform, structure reform, sustainable and inclusive development and innovation.
It is essential to ensure social welfare, increase resilience, boost inclusive economic recovery and minimise the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on developing economies.
APEC needs to pay attention to food security and the sustainable management of natural resources, as well as increasing women’s empowerment and supporting micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, the ministers said.
Speaking at the meeting, Deputy PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh said that the COVID-19 shows mutual dependence between economies.
He stressed the need for APEC members to uphold the spirit of solidarity and responsibility to help the Asia-Pacific region soon overcome current challenges and continue leading the global economic recovery.
Minh suggested APEC continue promoting its pioneering role in stepping up open and free trade and investment, regional economic connectivity and people-centered economic growth.
The Vietnamese delegation also made proposals to help control the pandemic and boost economic recovery, ensure the sustainability of supply chains, and improve the self-reliance against future crises and shocks.
As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2020-2021 tenure and the ASEAN Chair in 2020, Vietnam once affirmed its continued efforts to, together with the international community, enhance multilateral cooperation, including within the framework of APEC.
The 31st APEC Ministerial Meeting approved a joint statement of the ministers affirming the determination of 21 APEC member economies to continue joining hands in building a self-reliant and prosperous Asia-Pacific region.