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ABAC talks to focus on Covid-19, and rebuilding

Rachel Taulelei, chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council (ABAC) talks about its function and what ABAC hopes to achieve in 2021.

Asia-Pacific business leaders and officials will talk rebuilding and recovery this week.

They will meet as part of ABAC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council. The council meets four times a year and is the business voice and private-sector arm of APEC. Through ABAC representatives can give advice to senior officials, ministers and APEC leaders.

“We are champions for a seamless, resilient, dynamic, inclusive, sustainable economic community," ABAC chair Rachel Taulelei said.

“Our focus this year in ABAC is on people, place and prosperity – in the Māori language, tāngata, taiao, me te taurikura. These three elements are all essential to creating the kind of societies we want to live in."

New Zealand prime minister – and APEC 2021 chair - Jacinda Ardern will address the forum on February 9, and its discussions will focus on Covid-19 recovery and rebuilding the Asia Pacific's economies.

ABAC’s spotlight will also fall on indigenous economies within APEC and how to empower them for success. Ms Taulelei said it was vital APEC and ABAC engage with indigenous economies, pointing to the Māori economy, which a report from the Reserve Bank and BERL says is worth $68.7 billion to New Zealand, as an example of success.

“There are huge opportunities for New Zealand business. Three-quarters of our trade enters the APEC region and we have free trade agreements with 18 other economies."

APEC’s leaders formed ABAC in 1995 to provide advice from the business community around the region relevant to APEC’s work. Among ABAC's most tangible successes is a Business Travel Card, making it easier for business people to travel around the region.

Each economy picks the people they want to represent them at ABAC. Representing New Zealand are Ms Taulelei, chief executive of Kono New Zealand, Christchurch International Airport chief executive Malcolm Johns, and Xero chief product officer Anna Curzon.