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New Zealand confirms APEC host year priorities

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The priorities for APEC 2021 have been revealed following the first virtual meeting of New Zealand’s host year.

The three priorities set the tone of the year and focus on the response to COVID.

APEC – the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation – is made up of 21 economies from around the Pacific Ocean. From Wednesday to Friday they met virtually for the Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting (ISOM), a series of meetings in which APEC economies discuss and prioritise the work that will take place throughout the following APEC year.

On Friday, incoming host New Zealand highlighted its commitment to helping APEC chart its course for the next 20 years and organising its agenda around three policy priorities:

  • Economic and trade policies that strengthen recovery, with a focus on the right macroeconomic, microeconomic and trade policy choices;
  • Increasing inclusion and sustainability for recovery by building a better society for all people and generating a green recovery; and
  • Pursuing innovation and a digitally enabled recovery by accelerating the APEC region’s work in these areas.

Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat said the response to COVID-19 would be a theme throughout APEC 2021.

“This week’s meeting has provided an opportunity for fresh discussions on the things that matter most to Asia-Pacific economies. New Zealand shared its host year priorities and there was broad agreement that much of the focus in the year ahead will be on COVID-19, and supporting the Asia- Pacific region’s economic response and recovery.”

The projected 2.5% contraction in the Asia Pacific’s economic activity would be the first time in 30 years the region’s economy shrank.

Prime Minister Ardern will chair APEC in 2021, and said the economic impacts would be felt for “some time to come”.

“In the wake of the unprecedented health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19, it is clear that the immediate economic response to COVID-19 will dominate APEC discussions in 2021, but as we work to recover we also need to focus on building back better.

“I urge member economies to work together in the spirit of cooperation to address these challenges effectively.”

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