Wellington, Nov 21 (IANS) New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took over the rotating chairmanship of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on Saturday, when she joined leaders from the 21 APEC economies virtually for the forum's final 2020 meeting.
Receiving the mantle of APEC chairmanship from Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Ardern said the country is looking forward to hosting a fully virtual APEC 2021 next year, Xinhua news agency reported.
Ardern said that delivering an innovative and well-run virtual APEC will demonstrate New Zealand's digital and creative capabilities, along with its commitment to continued and effective diplomacy, which is more important now than ever in a Covid-19 world.
"As Chair, New Zealand will build on Malaysia's work and ensure APEC is focused on making a difference for all our people. This will include continuing APEC's critical work in leading a collaborative regional response to the economic impacts of COVID-19," she said.
While the APEC 2021 is not an in-person meeting, it will be one of the most important international events New Zealand will host in decades.
"Working together, we will show the value of APEC to New Zealand and the broader region in driving the economic recovery and enabling sustainable and inclusive economic growth," said Ardern.
The New Zealand leader highlighted the new Vision launched by the APEC leaders, which will provide APEC's guiding mandate for the coming decades.
The new Vision aspires to "an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040, for the prosperity of all our people and future generations" based on three drivers of growth: Trade and Investment; Innovation and Digitalisation; and Strong, Balanced, Secure, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth.
The new Vision will succeed APEC's 1994 Bogor Goals which set an ambitious objective of free and open trade in the Asia-Pacific by 2020.
"New Zealand will have the privilege of leading the development of an action agenda during our host year to achieve this new Vision. This will shape APEC's work for decades to come," Ardern said.
The first APEC meeting hosted by New Zealand will be the Informal Senior Officials Meeting on Dec. 9-11, 2020, followed by a first formal gathering of officials in February 2021, according to the Prime Minister Office of New Zealand.
APEC is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific. APEC's 21 members aim to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.