Tuesday, 18 January, 2022

APEC to cut vaccine tariffs, mulls US hosting offer

WELLINGTON: Pacific Rim leaders agreed to cut tariffs on Covid-19 vaccines at a virtual summit Saturday, but failed to deliver meaningful movement on climate change and reacted coolly to US efforts to re-engage with the region.

The annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit brought together leaders from 21 member economies, including US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, in a bid to chart a path to pandemic recovery, reports AFP.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the group discussed an economic “reset” in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. “APEC leaders are determined to work together to defeat Covid-19,” she said.

“We are focused on driving a coordinated economic response to the biggest downturn in 75 years, creating new models of growth and responding to climate change.”

The meeting’s major outcome was a commitment to slash tariffs on vaccines and other pandemic-related medical supplies to streamline the international response to the deadly health crisis. The leaders also agreed to push for a freeze on increases to fossil fuel subsidies as part of a plan to make the pandemic recovery environmentally sustainable.

But the pledge, first raised by APEC in 2010, did little to meet the soaring rhetoric of regional leaders in the build-up to the summit, who had talked up transitional change toward a green future.