Apec scheme aims for 'Safe Passage'
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) inter-governmental forum has proposed a "Safe Passage" scheme to reconnect all economic areas and improve travel procedures for Apec member states.
At a press conference on Friday held by the Ministry of Foreign, Cherdchai Chaivaivid, director-general of the International Economics Affairs Department and also chair of Apec's Safe Passage Scheme working committee, said the scheme was a continuation of a project begun last year when New Zealand was Apec chair.
"This scheme is homework received from New Zealand. And so this year as chair we have set up a working team," he explained at the press conference, which followed Apec's virtual Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM1) on Feb 21.
"Various proposals were considered in the SOM1 meeting to provide Apec members with safer and more efficient travel."
He said the scheme is split into short-term and long-term plans. In the short term, over the next two months, the focus will be on building key public infrastructure and an information-sharing platform.
A long-term plan, however, is not yet set, although Mr Cherdchai said two or three possible components were scrutinised during the meeting. One was Thailand's suggestion to expand the mandate and accessibility of the Apec business travel card.
He said approval of such an expansion during the final Apec meeting in November would be welcome as it would help facilitate travel between Apec member states in the long run.
Mr Cherdchai added, "During the meeting we acknowledged that Covid-19 will not be the only disruption in future. There will be others. Thus the Safe Passage Scheme will help regain confidence by rebuilding the connections lost among Apec member states throughout the last two years."