Pacific Rim executives agree to step up sharing of COVID vaccines


In this image from the video, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, President of APEC 2021, speaks at a press conference in Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday, July 17, 2021, about the Informal Leaders' Retreat virtual conference.  (APEC2021 via AP)

In this image from the video, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, President of APEC 2021, speaks at a press conference in Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday, July 17, 2021, about the Informal Leaders’ Retreat virtual conference. (APEC2021 via AP)

PA

Leaders of Asia-Pacific countries agreed on Friday to step up COVID-19 vaccination sharing as China says it pledged $ 3 billion in international aid to support coronavirus response efforts in developing countries.

The virtual retreat of Asia-Pacific economic cooperation leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Russian President Vladimir Putin, took place as the delta variant causes a increase in infections around the world.

“There were two things that came out very strongly from the leaders. One was that this pandemic has a certain time to run and that there is important work to be done by all of us, and that it must look beyond our national borders, ”said the Neo Prime Minister. Zeeland Jacinda Ardern, who organized the informal retreat. “The second strong theme was agreement and acceptance (…) that this will not be the last pandemic we will experience and that preparation is essential.”

Xi told leaders in a pre-recorded message released in their private session that Beijing will spend $ 3 billion to help poorer countries respond to COVID-19 over the next three years, according to the Chinese state news agency. Xinhua. China reports providing more than 500 million doses of vaccine to other developing countries.

Vaccine sharing has proven to be a divisive issue among forum members, who say its main goal is to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Biden administration has failed to meet its goal of delivering 80 million doses of the vaccine to the rest of the world by the end of June due to a host of logistical and regulatory hurdles that have slowed the pace of US efforts.

Biden told executives at the meeting that he has pledged to deliver more than 500 million doses of the vaccine to countries around the world, according to the White House, which said “the administration’s singular goal remains to save lives “.

“He made it clear that the United States was donating our vaccines, not selling them, and stressed the importance of not attaching any political or economic conditions to the supply of vaccines,” the White House said in a statement.

Taiwan, an APEC member that China claims as renegade territory, has accused Beijing of tying the delivery of coronavirus vaccines to political demands. The Autonomous Island government said China had intervened to block vaccine deliveries to Taiwan from other APEC members Japan and the United States.

China, meanwhile, accused Australia of interfering in the deployment of Chinese vaccines in the former Australian colony of Papua New Guinea. Australia and Papua New Guinea are also members of APEC.

Leaders also pledged to move forward to lower costly tariffs that complicate the movement of vaccines across borders ahead of an APEC meeting scheduled for November. Vials, syringes and packaging often face significant tariffs, which Ardern described as “a very real problem that APEC economies have the capacity to eliminate”.

Biden had planned to use the retreat to talk to fellow leaders about his administration’s efforts to serve as “the vaccine arsenal for the world” and discuss how members of the alliance can work together to strengthen the economy. global, according to a senior official in the Biden administration. who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

The United States has shipped more than 53 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 30 countries and territories, with plans to ship at least 30 million more as recipient countries overcome regulatory and logistical hurdles . They mark the Biden administration’s down payment on a plan to purchase and donate 500 million more doses for the world over the coming year.

The United States has donated 4.5 million doses of the vaccine to Indonesia, 2 million to Vietnam and 1 million to Malaysia, and 3.2 million doses will soon be delivered to the Philippines. The White House says donations to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea will be delivered soon. Laos and Cambodia are the only countries among these eight vaccinated that are not members of APEC.

The ‘important meeting’ came at a critical time as the world faces a resurgence in the number of COVID-19 infections and international cooperation against the pandemic has entered a new phase, the spokesperson said from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian.

“We hope that all parties can uphold the vision of an Asia-Pacific community of destiny, advance the Asia-Pacific partnership, send a positive message to fight the coronavirus with solidarity and deepen economic recovery and cooperation,” Zhao said.

APEC countries lost more than 80 million jobs during the pandemic as the global economy collapsed amid restrictions and lockdowns.

The Biden administration emphasized nurturing allied relations in the Pacific early in its administration.

One of his first high-profile diplomatic acts as president was hosting a virtual summit with other Quad leaders – Australia, India and Japan – a group at the heart of his efforts to counter China’s growing military and economic power. And he hosted Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in for the first face-to-face meetings of the foreign leaders of his presidency. South Korea is a member of APEC and India is the only Quad country not.


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