Skip to main content

Countdown to SOM 1

Officials from a number of New Zealand agencies are given a walkthrough of one of the meeting rooms that will be used for SOM 1, the first formal meeting cluster of New Zealand’s APEC host year.

The first meeting cluster of New Zealand’s APEC host year begins next week, and will involve close to 1500 policymakers, business leaders and experts.

APEC – the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation – is made up of 21 member economies. From February 18 to March 12 their representatives have more than 70 meetings as part of Senior Officials’ Meeting One (SOM 1) cluster.

Senior Officials’ Meetings lay the ground work for ministers’ meetings, are a way to supervise APEC work programmes, and are where officials implement declarations and directives given by the region's leaders and ministers.

At SOM 1, work will also get under way on the Action Agenda – the plan for APEC to achieve the recently signed Putrajaya Vision 2040. This will be a key focus for economies throughout APEC 2021 as the Vision will shape the Asia-Pacific for the next two decades.

“Twenty-one APEC economies agreed to a Vision that aims to greatly improve the lives of people in this region of three billion people,” said Vangelis Vitalis, 2021 Chair of APEC Senior Officials.

SOM 1 will comprise of more than 70 meetings and help lay the groundwork for New Zealand’s host year. On Thursday officials from a number of NZ Inc agencies got to see how the meetings will be run.

“The Vision’s implementation plan will be the key focus for members this year and as the host of APEC 2021, New Zealand has a chance to make a positive, tangible impact on the entire Asia-Pacific, and those living in it,” added Mr Vitalis who is Deputy Secretary (Trade and Economic) for New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

With more than 70 per cent of its trade coming from APEC economies, New Zealand has committed to charting a recovery and reigniting growth, leading the forum under the 2021 guiding theme of “Join, Work, Grow. Together. Haumi ē, Hui ē, Tāiki ē” and organising APEC’s agenda around three policy priorities:

  • Economic and trade policies that strengthen recovery, with a focus on the right macroeconomic, microeconomic and trade policy choices;
  • Increasing inclusion and sustainability for recovery by building a better society for all people and generating a green recovery; and
  • Pursuing innovation and a digitally enabled recovery by accelerating the APEC region’s work in these areas.

Outside of the Senior Officials’ Meeting itself are other meetings for the myriad committees and working groups of APEC – from the Digital Economy Steering Group to the Health Working Group. These working groups are the engine room of APEC, bringing together policy and subject matter experts to progress the important work in their areas.

A virtual media conference will be held on Thursday, March 11, at 1pm (NZT), as senior officials prepare for their final meeting day of the cluster. Speakers include APEC Secretariat Executive Director Dr Rebecca Sta Maria and Mr Vitalis. Media not registered for the media conference can request access to the media conference materials by emailing