New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened the 2021 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting on Friday by reaffirming her confidence in multilateral cooperation as leaders look to emerge together from the global crisis and set a new path for APEC as a stronger international forum in tackling the Asia-Pacific’s most important challenges.
Under this year’s theme, Join, Work, Grow. Together, Prime Minister Ardern underscored the persistent challenges brought by the pandemic and the benefits of collaborative response by all member economies.
“There is no single COVID situation in APEC—every economy’s experience is different, and we’re all adapting to our own circumstances driven by our own unique management of the virus. But nonetheless we face the same fundamental questions,” said Prime Minister Ardern, who chairs APEC in 2021.
“How can we get as many people vaccinated as fast as possible? How do we keep our businesses afloat and our people in jobs? How can we resume safe cross-border travel? How do we accelerate economic recovery? How do we ensure overall that we work together to secure an equitable response?”
“Today is also a chance to look to the future, as we seek to emerge from this crisis better than before,” Prime Minister Ardern added. “A future where our businesses flourish and our economies offer opportunities for all, where we embrace a green transformation, combat climate change and harness digital technologies. A future where, once protected by vaccination, we are able to deepen our connections for all our benefit.”
Leaders will exchange views on the state of the regional and global economy, and against this backdrop, how member economies can deepen cooperation through APEC to accelerate economic recovery. Leaders will also share significant challenges and opportunities that are present in a post-pandemic world and how they can ensure that all share in the benefits for today and for the future.
Parallel focus will be on advancing the collective goal of combatting climate change and integrating actions across APEC, including the forum’s work on finance, structural reform, skills development, disaster risk reduction and trade.
Leaders will also consider support for small businesses and the empowerment of vulnerable communities in driving a sustainable and inclusive recovery for the region.
“With all that is going on the world, what better moment than now to renew belief in the power of this institution to make us greater than the sum of our parts,” Prime Minister Ardern said. “I hope we can write a new chapter in APEC’s history, and leave the organization stronger and ready to assist us all in tackling our most important challenges.”
APEC Leaders will also seek to endorse a plan that spans the next two decades. The plan will be the foundation to realizing APEC’s vision of an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040.