S. Korea, APEC members vow to overcome pandemic through fair vaccine distribution

July 16, 2021

 South Korea and other member states of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on Friday agreed to work toward accelerating the region’s economic recovery by facilitating fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

Chaired by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, heads of the 21 APEC member states held a special online summit focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects.

Among the leaders who attended the virtual meeting were U.S. President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. South Korea was represented by Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum.

The leaders issued a joint statement, following their summit, calling for fair access to coronavirus vaccines in order to overcome the global public health crisis. They also agreed to accelerate the region’s economic recovery by facilitating free and fair trade and environments for investment.

“We will only overcome this health emergency by accelerating equitable access to safe, effective, quality-assured, and affordable COVID-19 vaccines. We recognise the role of extensive immunisation against COVID-19 as a global public good,” the statement said.

“To that end, we will redouble our efforts to expand vaccine manufacture and supply, support global vaccine sharing efforts, and encourage the voluntary transfer of vaccine production technologies on mutually agreed terms,” it added.

The statement also called for strengthening the advancement of innovations to create more quality jobs and pursuing inclusive economic growth so as to be prepared against potential economic shocks in the future.

“Our Ministers are working to ensure the region’s supply chains support the safe and efficient distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and related goods. We are committed to working together to facilitate the flow of goods and services, especially those that most support our health and economic response at this critical time,” it noted.

A file photo of South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, provided by his office (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

A file photo of South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, provided by his office (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Speaking at the summit, Kim stressed the importance of supplying an ample amount of vaccines and allowing fair access, pointing out that merely around 20 percent of the population across APEC economies, which accounts for 38 percent of the global population, were vaccinated.

Kim also explained Seoul’s efforts to bolster global vaccine supplies through consignment production partnerships with international vaccine developers.

The prime minister called for “bold and systematic” fiscal policies in order to achieve an inclusive economic recovery in the post-pandemic era, and shared details of the Korean-version New Deal project.