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Duterte to APEC: Non-discriminatory vaccination certificates needed

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Duterte to APEC: Non-discriminatory vaccination certificates needed
Duterte batted for the need to have uniform vaccination certificates to enable everyone to travel with strict adherence to health and safety protocols.
Presidential photo / Toto Lozano

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has urged the 21 member-economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to work on the use of internationally recognized digital vaccination cards that will boost travel globally while countries work their way to recovery.

Duterte batted for the need to have uniform vaccination certificates to enable everyone to travel with strict adherence to health and safety protocols.

“APEC must also take the initiative to facilitate international travel while safeguarding public health,” the President said in his intervention during the APEC Leaders Informal Retreat held virtually Friday evening.

“It is about time that we consider arrangements on the use of internationally recognized digital vaccination certificates that are scientific, verifiable and non-discriminatory,” he added, noting probably how some developed countries are not recognizing Chinese and Russian developed vaccines for entry to their countries.

The European Union, for example, has made available its COVID-19 passport for all EU citizens and residents, as well as for specific categories of travelers from third countries as part of efforts to restore the freedom of travel for vaccinates persons.

E-commerce, digitalization

During the APEC forum, Duterte discussed the importance of economic cooperation in recovery. “Beyond vaccines, economic recovery is also contingent on resilient global value chains and free movement of goods and peoples.”

He pushed for the immediate realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, drawing elements from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement and other regional arrangements.

Since many are forced to adjust to work arrangements at home during lockdowns, Duterte noted how trade has shifted to e-commerce and other digital activities.

“The pandemic has accelerated our shift to e-commerce and other digital activities. We need to ensure that micro, small and medium enterprises are able to fully participate in the digital economy. After all, APEC is home to more than 100 million MSMEs. They are drivers of economic growth,” he said.

Duterte recognized how COVID-19 has compelled many economies, including the Philippines, to ramp up fiscal spending on mitigation and recovery measures.

“As a result, debt among many developing countries has increased. It is crucial that we ensure debt sustainably to avert volatilities in global financial markets. We must coordinate policy responses to prevent sudden swings in interest rates that could affect debt servicing,” Duterte said.

“COVID-19 will not be the last disruptive event that humanity will face. Yet, our global and domestic mechanisms remain inadequate to address systemic shocks of great magnitude. It is our collective obligation (to) future-proof our region. We can do this by harnessing technology and innovation through enhanced multilateralism,” he added.

APEC PRESIDENT DUTERTE
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