Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will chair a virtual meeting of APEC Leaders on July 16 focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects.
“This is the first time in APEC’s history that Leaders have held an additional meeting at Leaders’ level, and it reflects our desire to navigate together out of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“APEC economies have suffered their biggest contraction since the Second World War over the past year, with 81 million jobs lost. Responding collectively is vital to accelerate the economic recovery for the region.
“Our region has already responded in significant ways, including 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.
“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.
“Containing COVID-19 through rapid, safe, and effective vaccination; micro- and macro-economic 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 co-ordinated regional action to assist recovery, as well as steps that will support inclusive and sustainable growth over the long term.
“APEC Leaders will work together to get through the pandemic and promote a sustainable and inclusive recovery, because nobody is safe until everyone is safe,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Leading a regional response to the pandemic is one of New Zealand’s highest priorities as APEC Chair. It has been the focus of recent meetings of Finance, Structural Reform and Trade Ministers, with all economies focused on international cooperation in responding to COVID-19 and laying the foundations for recovery.
APEC is home to 2.9 billion people, represents 60 per cent of world GDP and 48 per cent of world trade (according to 2018 figures).
New Zealand’s three policy priorities for APEC 2021 are shaped by the COVID-19 crisis and focused on bringing the region together to promote an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery.
Economic and trade policies to strengthen recovery
This priority focuses on APEC’s economic response to COVID-19. It aims to encourage trade and economic policies that support openness and connectivity, and reduce friction at the border in order to to reduce barriers and make it easier for companies to trade and do business throughout the APEC region.
Increasing inclusion and sustainability for recovery
This priority acknowledges the need for APEC’s long-term response to COVID-19 to be sustainable and inclusive of all people. It is about enhancing the participation of groups such as women and indigenous people in the economy, and ensuring their contributions are valued. It will also ensure the region’s recovery can be used to improve sustainability outcomes, including in the area of climate change.
Pursuing innovation, and a digitally enabled recovery
The priority focuses on APEC taking advantage of innovation in the digital space to improve the way business is done and make it more efficient and adaptable. It aims to encourage APEC members to embrace open and competitive markets for new technologies.
There have been over 50 million cases of COVID-19 within APEC’s borders, with over one million deaths. The region has registered more than 100,000 new cases every day since November 2020 and, during this time, more than 22 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty.
APEC-wide GDP contracted by 1.9 percent in 2020, the biggest fall since World War Two. While economic growth is recovering, around 81 million jobs have been lost due to the pandemic.