11 July 2024

As the host of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2022, Thailand is spearheading efforts to enhance connectivity and greater business mobility, to ensure that safe and seamless travel will resume.

According to Cherdchai Chaivaivid, Director of the Department of International Economic Affairs in Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, safe passage will be a key deliverable. He said that the world has to grapple with the disruptions caused by COVID-19, which have led to all sorts of problems, including cross-border restrictions, which have negatively impacted all APEC economies.

“The travel and tourism industries have been hit particularly hard, while business travel, which is a key element of international trade, investment and business activity, was also interrupted,” he said, adding that reopening borders is a prerequisite for economic recovery and reconnecting the region.

He was addressing the First APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM1), which has already started working towards reconnecting the region. The first APEC Safe Passage Taskforce (SPTF) Meeting was convened on Monday, following the recommendations of APEC’s business leaders, to coordinate the resumption of cross-border travel. The aim, Cherdchai emphasised, is to “connect in all dimensions”.

At the SPTF meeting, APEC economies, including experts from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and ASEAN, also updated their initiatives on safe passage.

The meeting also discussed 6 proposals, submitted by member economies, covering such issues as interoperability of vaccine certificates, safe and sustainable tourism and broadening the APEC Business Travel Card scheme. Thailand has submitted three proposals to facilitate travel for business people and investors within the APEC region.

The Safe Passage process was initiated during APEC 2021, with strong support from member economies and the business community. As host of APEC 2022, Thailand has taken on and further solidified this initiative. The SPTF will meet again at the next Senior Officials’ meeting, to discuss actionable outcomes. Resuming safe and seamless travel has become a matter of increasing urgency, especially with many economies seeking to re-open their borders, while balancing health and the economy.

Thailand, as Chair of the SPTF, will lead APEC’s collective efforts to implement certain initiatives that can reinvigorate the travel and tourism sector and jumpstart the region’s economic recovery, according to Cherdchai.

In addition, he stressed that Thailand will strengthen ways to promote safe passage for the APEC region and its long-term resilience to future pandemics.