MANILA – A senior official of the Committee of Trade and Investment (CTI) of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has urged the 21 member economies to facilitate the flow of trade in goods and services as well as investments amid the ongoing global health crisis.

“Together with taking measures to protect our health, we also need to take measures to facilitate trade and investment at an international and domestic level. This is key to ensuring that this health crisis does not lead us to a long-term economic crisis,” CTI chair Krasna Bobenrieth said in a statement Thursday.

She said global trade will drop between 13 percent to 32 percent this year according to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Bobenrieth said facilitating trade and investments will not only lessen the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to the economy but will also help in fighting the disease.

“Trade and investment are also important in our fight against the pandemic itself, for instance, through facilitating trade of essential products such as medicines, medical supplies, and equipment,” she added.

The APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade recently listed the region’s commitment to facilitating trade and investments amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

These include: facilitating the flow of essential goods and services to fight the pandemic; making supply chains more resilient; ensuring that trade and investment are sustained; identifying and resolving unnecessary barriers to trade; upholding WTO notification commitments; and strengthening electronic commerce and related services.

Bobenrieth further said some of the member-economies have started to implement these commitments in the last few weeks.

She cited that 15 economies had eliminated or reduced tariffs of essential goods temporarily.

Some of the APEC members have accepted electronic submissions of trade-related documents and information, as lockdown measures of countries have restricted the movement of people and disrupted the normal way of doing business.

“They have done so with a focus on expediting and simplifying customs procedures, for example, through priority procedures for essential products. Such measures are important because due to Covid-19 lockdowns, border and customs procedures are delayed and can produce logjams at major ports,” she added.

The Philippines is a member-economy of the regional forum.

Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo earlier said the country has not halted its exports of essential goods while other countries have banned exports of medical products, such as face masks and personal protective equipment, as they prioritize the needs of their domestic market. (iamigo/PNA)