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Prime Minister Opens APEC CEO Summit

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister
MP for Mt Albert

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called for political and business leaders to work together to build a strong, equitable and sustainable recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Delivering the keynote address to a global business audience at the APEC CEO Summit, the largest business conference in the Asia-Pacific region that runs adjacent to APEC’s Leaders’ Week meetings, Jacinda Ardern acknowledged the scale of the pandemic’s impacts, the inequitable effect it has had on people, and the varied challenges economies have faced.

“But there is now little doubt that staying on top of the virus provides options when it comes to responding to the economic challenges before us,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“As we prepare for the post-pandemic era, we need to continue to strengthen the partnership between government and business. Together, we need to set the stage for an equitable, inclusive and sustainable recovery that invests in our people and our planet through innovative ideas and renewed resolve,” Jacinda Ardern said.

She outlined three areas where political and business leaders could work together to achieve an economic recovery to weather future economic shocks.

“We must unlock efficiency and productivity gains that digital innovation offers. After years of talking about the digital transformation, COVID-19 has accelerated progress by years,” Jacinda Ardern said.

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“Workplaces and businesses must be inclusive of everyone across our communities, particularly women and indigenous peoples. They have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s effects but are an engaged and productive labour force that have much to contribute. In New Zealand alone, the Māori economy is now worth NZD$70 billion,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Environmental sustainability was the third area for increased political and business cooperation, she said.

“I’m proud of the progress APEC has made this year, including in beginning to turn the tide on the adoption of fossil fuel subsidies which have created devastating environmental degradation by masking the true cost of fossil fuels and inhibiting the transition to adoption of renewable alternatives,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Jacinda Ardern acknowledged that addressing such systemic issues would demand increased political and business cooperation.

“We have been dealt an opportunity to strike an economic reset on a scale we haven’t seen since World War II. Implementing this level of change during such challenging times will require real courage from all of us, political leaders and business leaders alike.

“APEC Leaders stand with the business community to ensure everyone has the opportunity to pull through the pandemic stronger than they were before,” Jacinda Ardern said.


Editor’s note

The APEC CEO Summit is a virtual gathering of the world’s most powerful CEOs, business leaders, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, prime ministers and presidents of APEC economies. More information and the full programme and speaker profiles are available on the APEC 2021 website.

The programme and background information on specific events are contained in the APEC 2021 Leaders’ Week Media Guide, available on the
APEC 2021 website.

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).

APEC economies are vitally important to New Zealand’s prosperity, accounting for 75% of our exports.

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.

New Zealand’s host year runs from December 2020 until November 2021.

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