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Customs drives work on Covid-19 vaccine delivery for APEC economies

The New Zealand Customs Service has led work to deliver a set of Best Practice Guidelines to support the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation region.

At the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting, on June 6, Ministers highlighted the importance of ensuring COVID-19 vaccines flow across borders as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Ministers welcomed the Guidelines for APEC Customs Administrations as an operational and practical contribution to help facilitate the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and related goods.

Jamie Bamford, deputy chief executive international and governance says the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges to Customs administrations around the world but it has also opened up opportunities to create a resilient and more predictable supply chain.

"Customs is one of the critical players in the global supply chain process. As the key gatekeepers protecting our border, we need to ensure that vital goods such as vaccines can flow through easily without any hold ups.

"The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and related goods, such as test kits, syringes and dry ice, while supporting the rules-based trading system is a relevant and real-time challenge. In response to this, Customs prepared and worked with the other APEC economies to develop the Guidelines, as one of its APEC initiatives this year."

"We hope the Guidelines will be actively used by the APEC economies as the year progresses," Jamie says.

Customs presented the Guidelines at the first plenary session of APEC’s Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures. The Guidelines were well received by our APEC partners and were subsequently endorsed by the SCCP and the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment.

Rebecca Jonassen, New Zealand chair of the SCCP, says the Guidelines were developed following the APEC Leaders’ Meeting 2020 where leaders highlighted the importance of ensuring easy access to COVID-19 vaccines, which is vital to safeguard people’s health and well-being.

"These Guidelines provide practical examples of best practice that will help APEC economies distribute COVID-19 vaccines, such as establishing a 24-hour contact point to help with questions and respond to delays, ensuring that the vaccine supply chain is uninterrupted while in transit, and fast-tracking border clearance for hazardous substances."

"By implementing these measures, APEC economies will benefit from simpler border processes and help COVID-19 vaccines reach where they are needed more quickly and efficiently. The Guidelines will also build supply chain resilience and connectivity, securing against any future supply chain disruptions."

"I would like to acknowledge the SCCP member economies for supporting this important piece of work," Rebecca says.

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