(Singapore, July 24, 2020)The Singapore Business Federation (SBF), as the national secretariat for the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Singapore, says today it is supporting the call for APEC to lead a globally coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Led by SBF CEO Mr Ho Meng Kit, and Ms Teo Lay Lim, Senior Managing Director of Accenture, SBF participated in ABAC’s series of virtual meetings on the COVID-19 pandemic held between 14 May and 24 June 2020.

Mr Ho emphasised that the severe health and economic impacts caused by COVID19 require a globally coordinated response from the Governments as well as businesses.

Sharing the example of the Singapore-New Zealand Declaration on Trade in Essential Goods for Combating the COVID-19 Pandemic during one of the virtual meetings, Mr Ho called for APEC economies to work together by joining the declaration and using it as a basis for a regional or multilateral agreement at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Mr Ho said, “Ensuring supply chain resilience and keeping markets open will minimise disruptions as a result of the cross-border controls, and removing any additional trade distorting measures detrimental to the flow of essential goods and services and preventing them from reaching those who will need it most, especially during this difficult period. “

It is also critical for the Governments to intensify their efforts in providing relief to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as assisting in their digital transformation, and strengthening digital connectivity in the region. This will enable businesses to bounce back from the economic impact caused by COVID-19 and emerge stronger after this pandemic, he said.

The outcomes from these discussions have shaped the ABAC COVID-19 Report which provide short- and long-term recommendations from the business community to APEC Trade Ministers on laying the groundwork for economic recovery and building resilience in the region.

The Letter and Report to the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) will be presented during the Virtual MRT Meeting on 25 July 2020. ABAC Members also took the opportunity to express their support for WTO and the multilateral trading system which are essential for the global economic recovery.

As an intergovernmental platform for multilateral commitments, the WTO can help to ensure that member economies remain accountable and transparent in their regulatory measures, providing businesses a predictable trade and investment environment. ABAC urged APEC economies to lead the WTO reform process.