Trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific region agreed Saturday on achieving a strong economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, starting with accelerating vaccine distribution.

The ministers from 21 economies that form the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation met virtually amid the pandemic, with New Zealand, the current APEC host, serving as chair.

"Recognizing the role of extensive COVID-19 immunization as a global public good, we urgently need to accelerate the production and distribution of safe, effective, quality-assured, and affordable COVID-19 vaccines," they said in a joint statement, stressing trade and investment's role in ensuring widespread and equitable access to vaccines.