Phuket: Thailand, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) 2022 host country, plans to organise physical meetings year-round amid the emergence of the coronavirus’ Omicron variant, said the permanent secretary for foreign affairs.
Thani Thongphakdi, who is mainly responsible for the preparation of Apec leader meetings, told the Bangkok Post that he is optimistic that having mass vaccination among the global population, including those in Thailand; relaxed regulations on trans-boundary travel and self-prevention measures are key factors that could lead Thailand to successfully host various Apec-related physical meetings next year.
Mr Thani said Apec has held meetings since 1989. However, 2021 meetings hosted by New Zealand were conducted via online conference platforms due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
It has been estimated that Apec’s 21 member countries account for 38% of the world’s population and over 60% of its GDP. China, Japan, Russia and the United States are considered political and economic heavyweights in the group.
“All people want to see a global economic recovery based on sustainable development goals,” Mr Thani said, referring to the importance of Apec meetings. “They need to see the cooperation from all stakeholders and the opportunity to create equality for all.”
“We believe that sustainability in all aspects is the pathway that all people have agreed to [manifest],” he said.
Mr Thani, Thai ambassador to the US from 2019 to last year, spoke after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs completed its in-person Informal Senior Official Meeting (ISOM) in Phuket, which ran from Thursday to Friday.
It was Thailand’s first meeting after the country took over the baton from New Zealand last month.
The ISOM produced a great outcome for an agreement to utilise all measures to recover a post-Covid-19 economy and a proposal to re-write the concept of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific framework based on each country’s sustainable development concept under the Bio-Circular-Green initiative, said a source at the ministry.
A three-week Senior Official Meeting is expected to happen shortly in Chon Buri province, the source said.
Under Apec 2022’s theme of “Open. Connect. Balance.” the ministry is working hard to send a key message to member countries that a post-Covid-19 economic recovery should be done based on sustainable development goals and all stakeholders should receive fair benefits in a new trading era after the pandemic, the source said.
Global trade regulations need to adjust to facilitate the world’s green and digital economic trends, the source said. The kingdom is said to be aiming to hold all Apec-related events in person. There will reportedly be four SOM meetings held in major cities in Thailand, including nine working groups and ministerial meetings before the final Apec leaders’ meeting at the end of next year.
The ministry is reportedly continuing to work closely with stakeholders and relevant government agencies to formulate priorities for Apec 2022 and translate them into concrete deliverables to benefit the people.
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