"This is the first time in APEC’s history that leaders have held an extraordinary meeting at the leaders’ level, and it reflects our desire to navigate together out of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis," Prime Minister Ardern stated as noted in a press statement issued by the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting Chair and received here on Tuesday.
Ardern pointed to the biggest contractions experienced over the past year by APEC economies since the Second World War, with 81 million jobs lost. Hence, the New Zealand PM emphasized that responding collectively is paramount to expediting economic recovery in the region.
"Our region has already responded in significant ways, including by removing barriers to the efficient distribution of vaccines and related goods, but there is still a lot of work to do to get through the crisis," she affirmed.
"Leaders will share information, so we can continue to build on our collective understanding of the region’s health response to COVID-19 and shape a collaborative economic response," the prime minister noted.
Leading a regional response to the pandemic is one of New Zealand’s highest priorities as the APEC chair. It has been the emphasis of recent meetings of finance, structural reform, and trade ministers, with all economies focused on international cooperation in responding to COVID-19 and laying down the foundations for recovery.
Prime Minister Ardern expounded that containing COVID-19 through rapid, safe, and effective vaccination; micro and macroeconomic policy settings to sustain businesses and workers; and building more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable economies will all be on the agenda.
"I will be inviting discussion on immediate measures to achieve more coordinated regional action to assist recovery as well as steps that will support inclusive and sustainable growth over the long term," Ardern revealed.
"APEC leaders will work together to get through the pandemic and promote sustainable and inclusive recovery because nobody is safe until everyone is safe," she stated.
Since the start of the pandemic, APEC has been responding collectively with a plethora of policy tools that address different pain points of the health and economic crisis.
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These initiatives encompass vaccines and essential goods and services, structural reform, as well as the resumption of safe and seamless cross-border travel.
APEC Secretariat’s Executive Director, Rebecca Sta Maria, emphasized that the pandemic provides further opportunities for greater cooperation among APEC members to ensure every economy recovers sustainably and inclusively from the crisis.
"Under the leadership of New Zealand, as the host of APEC 2021, we are witnessing the urgency from member economies to join, work, and eventually grow together," Sta Maria stated.
"The top priority remains clear and that is to manage COVID-19 effectively and build back better," she asserted.
"The upcoming APEC Informal Leaders’ Retreat is the first one in the forum’s history, and it is necessary for pushing forward our collective effort toward the region’s recovery," Sta Maria concluded.
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