New Zealand hosts the APEC Virtual Leaders Summit, focused on recovering from the pandemic

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WELLINGTON / WASHINGTON – Leaders of the APEC Asia-Pacific trade group will focus on the region’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, emphasizing supply chain support and decarbonising economies, in virtual talks starting Monday.

However, tensions are expected during talks this week between the group of 21 economists over Taiwan’s offer to join a regional trade pact and the U.S. offer to host the 2023 round of meetings.

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

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“This meeting will focus on charting a path for recovery from this once-in-a-century crisis,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement.

The talks will first take place between trade and foreign ministers of the economy group 21, which includes the United States, China and Russia, before state leaders meet online Friday night.

APEC member economies account for approximately 38% of the world’s population and over 60% of its gross domestic product.

“Together we are continuing to keep supply chains running and supporting the trade in critical medical supplies, including test kits, PPE and now vaccines,” said Ardern.

APEC members pledged in a special meeting in June to expand the sharing and production of COVID-19 vaccines and to eliminate trade barriers for medicines.

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The APEC meeting comes in the shadow of the high-profile G20 summit in Rome and the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow, both of which were attended in person by the leaders.

At a press conference on Monday, Ardern acknowledged that the virtual event meant the country had lost a big hit.

“It means that our ability to bring New Zealand to the world stage is not quite what it would have been if we had had an event in person,” said Ardern, adding that it has enabled better participation from business leaders.

Tensions are expected around Taiwan’s stated goal of using the rally to garner support for its offer to join a regional trade pact, a comprehensive and progressive Transpacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP).

China, which has also asked to join the pact, opposes Taiwan’s accession https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taiwan-woo-backers-apec-bid-join-pacific-trade -pact-2021- 11-02 and has increased military activities near the island that Beijing claims and does not rule out taking by force.

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USA GUEST OFFER

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

Diverting attention and resources to the region has become a core element of President Joe Biden’s administration, as he moves away from old security concerns with the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

But Russia has yet to officially support the US proposal, a source familiar with the discussions said, creating an unusual situation for the bloc, which usually agrees to host venues well in advance.

Russia has sought assurance that its representatives will be able to attend a US meeting even if some of them are under sanctions, the source said, adding that China has neither accepted nor rejected the US offer. United States.

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Neither country has publicly commented on the proposal. The Russian Foreign Ministry could not be reached immediately, while the Chinese Foreign Ministry did not make immediate comments.

“I’m sure the US and New Zealand would like to resolve this issue before (the) leaders’ meeting, but the dispute shouldn’t quell the statement, as leaders can always say they can’t wait to meet in Thailand next. year and they’re off to that, ”said Matthew Goodman, a consultant at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) reflection.

A leaders’ statement has been issued after each annual APEC leaders meeting since the first in 1993, expected in Papua New Guinea in 2018 due to disagreements between the US and China. (Reported by Praveen Menon in Wellington and David Brunnstrom in Washington; edited by Jane Wardell)

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