New Zealand to steer APEC's work towards recovery

New Zealand to steer APEC's work towards recovery

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. (ANTARA/HO-APEC 2021 New Zealand)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - New Zealand, one of the twelve founding members of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), plans to steer APEC’s efforts towards recovery in a time of unprecedented health and economic crises as the grouping’s host in 2021.

New Zealand has taken over the leadership of APEC from Malaysia, the host of APEC 2020, as noted in a written statement issued by the APEC Secretariat and received here on Wednesday.

The host year will be completely held online, as announced in June this year, demonstrating New Zealand’s leadership in digital diplomacy amidst the global pandemic, according to the statement.

"As we plan for recovery from COVID-19, it is economic cooperation through APEC, the most dynamic region in the world’s economy that will help us all rebuild," said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a video introducing New Zealand’s APEC year, presented at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting last Friday.

Prime Minister Ardern, who will chair the 2021 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, acknowledged the extraordinary scale of the challenges the world faces today and stressed the need for member economies to work together for the greater good.

She explained that New Zealand will create an environment where connections can be made and APEC’s important work can continue, including progress on sustainability, widespread adoption of digital tools to drive productivity, and development of inclusive plans to create opportunities for all people.

"The way we respond as a region to today’s challenges will be felt for generations to come," stated Prime Minister Ardern.

"APEC 2021 New Zealand will be the start of reigniting growth, continuing trade, and setting a plan for long-lasting recovery across the entire region," she added.

Speaking at a virtual briefing on Monday, Vangelis Vitalis, 2021 chair of APEC Senior Officials and deputy secretary of trade and economic affairs at New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, emphasized the importance of greater cooperation in times of crisis, noting that trade is "an absolute vital part" to the journey of recovery.

"We are hoping to take a closer look at the trade and economic policies that we need to drive recovery and to take us forward. We would also like to propel more discussion on not only how we can build back better, but to build back greener and more inclusively, so that the recovery will be much more resilient and sustainable," he explained.

Vitalis, who will be leading the technical discussions next year, also highlighted the importance of the digital and innovation aspect in driving recovery, improving productivity and efficiency, and keeping engagement and connectivity alive during periods of border closings and lockdowns.

"We look forward to a successful virtual APEC year as New Zealand continues the successful work laid by Malaysia this year, including to develop a work program for the implementation of the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040," said executive director of the APEC Secretariat, Rebecca Sta Maria.

"We stand ready to fully support New Zealand in its vision to pave the way for a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable APEC region," she remarked.

New Zealand will begin its host year with a symposium and the Informal Senior Officials Meeting in December, 2020, followed by the first formal gatherings of senior officials early next year.

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