New Zealand hosts virtual summit of APEC leaders, focused on pandemic recovery

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern participates in a televised debate with National Leader Judith Collins at TVNZ in Auckland, New Zealand, September 22, 2020. Fiona Goodall / Pool via REUTERS

WELLINGTON / WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 (Reuters) – Executives at Asia-Pacific business group APEC will focus on the region’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, with a focus on supply chain support and decarbonization of economies, during virtual talks that will begin on Monday.

Tensions are expected, however, during talks this week between the Group of 21 economies over Taiwan’s bid for a regional trade pact and the US bid to host the 2023 cycle of meetings.

New Zealand is hosting Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Week fully online thanks to its sweeping response to the pandemic that has kept the international border closed to almost all travelers for 18 months.

“This meeting will focus on building a way out of this crisis that is unique in a century,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement.

The talks will first take place between trade and foreign ministers from the group of 21 economies, which includes the United States, China and Russia, before the heads of state meet online on Friday evening.

APEC member economies represent around 38% of the world’s population and more than 60% of its gross domestic product.

“Together, we continue to keep supply chains functioning and support the trade in essential medical supplies – including test kits, PPE and now vaccines,” Ardern said.

APEC members pledged at a special meeting in June to expand the sharing and manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and to remove trade barriers for drugs. Read more

The APEC gathering comes in the shadow of the much-publicized G20 summit in Rome and the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow, both attended in person by the leaders.

At a press conference on Monday, Ardern acknowledged that the virtual event meant the country was failing to cause a stir.

“This means that our ability to put New Zealand on the world stage is not quite what it would have been if we had hosted an in-person event,” Ardern said, adding that it allowed for better participation. business leaders.

Tensions are expected around Taiwan’s stated goal of using the rally to gain support for its bid to join a regional trade pact, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

China, which has also asked to join the pact, opposes Taiwan’s membership and has stepped up military activities near the island that Beijing claims and has not ruled out taking by force. Read more

AMERICAN GUEST OFFER

The US offer to host APEC in 2023, which would be the country’s first time since former President Barack Obama led the group in Hawaii in 2011.

Diverting attention and resources to the region has become a centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s administration, as it turns away from old security concerns with the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. Read more

But Russia has yet to officially back the US proposal, a source familiar with the talks said, creating an unusual situation for the bloc, which typically agree to host venues well in advance.

Russia has asked for assurances that its representatives will be able to attend an American rally even if some of them are under sanctions, the source said, adding that China had neither accepted nor rejected the American offer.

Neither country has publicly commented on the proposal. The Russian Foreign Ministry could not be reached immediately, while the Chinese Foreign Ministry made no immediate comment.

“I’m sure the US and New Zealand would like to resolve this issue before (the) leaders meeting, but the dispute should not delay the release, as the leaders can always say they can’t wait to get together. in Thailand next year and go to that, ”said Matthew Goodman, advisor at the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

A leaders’ statement has been issued after every annual APEC leadership meeting since the first in 1993, scheduled for Papua New Guinea in 2018 due to disagreements between the United States and China.

Reporting by Praveen Menon in Wellington and David Brunnstrom in Washington; edited by Jane Wardell

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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