Coronavirus Resource Center


Coronavirus: APEC Health Cooperation Imperative as Economic Integration and Interdependence Grows in the Presence of Health Threats


APEC Health Cooperation on the Coronavirus

Health officials of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies are convening in Putrajaya, Malaysia this weekend to discuss strategies for the surveillance and management of the outbreak of 2019-nCov (coronavirus).

The semiannual meeting of APEC health ministries comes as new cases of coronavirus continue to be confirmed throughout the Asia-Pacific region and around the world. As of February 6th, coronavirus cases had been confirmed in 14 of the 21 APEC economies, including: China, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, and Viet Nam. Cases have also been confirmed in 14 other countries and territories in Europe and Asia.

Health ministry representatives are expected to share updated information on the coronavirus and discuss plans for continued work together to improve the management of the current outbreak as well as future emerging disease outbreaks in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC economies will also be examining supply-side strategies to strengthen vaccine-based public health responses to address new and resurgent disease epidemics and pandemics.


The APEC forum has been a pioneer in addressing the public health and trade impacts of infectious disease threats. APEC was established in 1989 as an inter-governmental forum to facilitate trade and economic cooperation among the countries of the Pacific-Rim.

In 2003, when the global architecture for identifying and responding to health emergencies was still being developed, APEC economies took early steps to call for enhanced cooperation on infectious disease prevention and preparedness, and proposed the APEC Action Plan for SARS. This constituted a set of guiding principles for health screening procedures for travelers which were endorsed by APEC Senior Officials, Health Ministers, and Heads of State.

As chair of APEC 2003, Thailand elevated SARS as a top issue on the multilateral trade agenda and it was then that APEC first recognized the linkage between infectious diseases, trade, and economic growth.

APEC Health Cooperation Post SARS

The events of 2003 led to the establishment of a temporary APEC Health Task Force to help address health-related threats to economies' trade and security, focusing mainly on emerging infectious diseases. With the spread of H5N1 in 2006, the Health Task Force was upgraded to a permanent body within the APEC organization and renamed the APEC Health Working Group.

Over the past seventeen years since the SARS outbreak, multilateral cooperation on health and infectious diseases has greatly improved information sharing between governments, especially with countries such as China. Increased transparency and improved trust, embodied by the spirit of the APEC platform, has enabled these governments to quickly work together to respond and mitigate harmful impacts on health and the global economy.

The Role of APEC in the Presence of Health Threats

It could take months or even years for economists to measure the full economic fallout of the coronavirus. But it is already clear that the impact will be significantly larger than it was during the SARS crisis in 2003. APEC economies are significantly more integrated and interdependent than they were back then and China plays a much larger role in the global economy, contributing 15% to global GDP compared to only 4% in 2003.

Health, trade, and the economy are always intertwined. Emerging infectious disease outbreaks are not going away. They will continue to disrupt an increasingly interconnected global economy for the foreseeable future. Dialogue and cooperation on health, trade, and economic issues is the only path forward. The meeting in Malaysia will be an opportunity for APEC officials to tackle this reality for the mutual benefit and prosperity of the APEC region and the world. It is an ongoing statement to the value of APEC in improving Pacific Rim economies and human lives.

For more information, please contact the professional(s) listed below, or your regular Crowell & Moring contact.

Robert Holleyman
C&M International President and CEO – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202.624.2505
Email: rholleyman@crowell.com
Michael E. Schmitz
C&M International Director – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202.508.8965
Email: mschmitz@crowell.com
Patricia L. Wu
C&M International Vice President and Managing Director – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202.624.2963
Email: pwu@crowell.com
Eric Obscherning
C&M International Senior Consultant – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202.624.2517
Email: eobscherning@crowell.com
Ryan MacFarlane
C&M International Director – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202.624.2575
Email: rmacfarlane@crowell.com
Joshua Boswell
C&M International Director – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202.508.8752
Email: jboswell@crowell.com

On-Demand Webinars

Alerts by Practice & Industry

Media Mentions

March 31, 2020 — Bloomberg Law
Featured Professionals: Mark S. Lichtenstein
March 30, 2020 — National Law Journal
Featured Professionals: Jodi G. Daniel
March 27, 2020 — Law360
Featured Professionals: David B. Robbins
March 27, 2020 — Law360
Featured Professionals: Robert Holleyman
March 24, 2020 — Compliance Week
Featured Professionals: Jeffrey L. Poston
March 23, 2020 — HR Magazine
Featured Professionals: Thomas P. Gies
March 20, 2020 — Washington Examiner
Featured Professionals: Andrew Blasi
March 20, 2020 — Washington Examiner
Featured Professionals: Andrew Blasi
March 19, 2020 — The Hollywood Reporter
Featured Professionals: Jeffrey L. Poston
March 16, 2020 — Compliance Week
Featured Professionals: Maarten Stassen
March 13, 2020 — BBC Radio
Featured Professionals: Paul M. Rosen
March 13, 2020 — Law360
Featured Professionals: Laura Foggan
March 11, 2020 — Law360
Featured Professionals: Gregory D. Call
March 10, 2020 — Business Insurance
Featured Professionals: Laura Foggan
March 9, 2020 — Federal News Network
Featured Professionals: Michelle D. Coleman
March 7, 2020 — Law360
Featured Professionals: Trina Fairley Barlow
March 4, 2020 — South China Morning Post
Featured Professionals: Robert Holleyman
February 26, 2020 — KGO 810
Featured Professionals: Paul M. Rosen
February 23, 2020 — Fox 5 News on the Hill
Featured Professionals: Andrew Blasi
February 18, 2020 — Business Insurance
Featured Professionals: Laura Foggan
February 12, 2020 — San Francisco Chronicle
Featured Professionals: Nicole Janigian Simonian
February 3, 2020 — The Wall Street Journal
Featured Professionals: Paul M. Rosen