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New Zealand hosts APEC trade ministers’ meeting with urgent focus on COVID-19 recovery

Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O'Connor

The first ministerial session of New Zealand’s APEC hosting year gets underway this Saturday evening when Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor chairs the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting.

The meeting will focus on trade’s vital role in responding to COVID-19 and keeping the global trading system flowing smoothly.

“The Asia-Pacific is confronted by the greatest health and economic crisis of our lifetimes, and unprecedented uncertainty as economies continue to struggle to bounce back from COVID-19. These are problems that demand APEC’s cooperative response,” Damien O’Connor said.

“We know nobody is safe until everybody is safe from COVID-19, and we know that trade has a vital role to ensure our region prospers economically by keeping our markets open to one another rather than closing ourselves off.

“Responsibility falls to New Zealand as this year’s host economy to lead an APEC 2021 agenda that responds to these challenges, as well as our responsibility for ensuring a sustainable recovery.”

 “I will be asking APEC Trade Ministers to accelerate access to vaccines and other goods essential in fighting the pandemic, by streamlining and speeding up related trade procedures.”

The Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting will focus on two key priorities:

 ·         Trade’s role in responding to COVID-19; and

·         Supporting a World Trade Organisation that provides predictable trade rules for business.

 Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth, Phil Twyford, will be the New Zealand representative at the meeting.

 “Globally, there have been worrying trends restricting supply chains and disrupting flows of vaccines and essential goods around the world,” Phil Twyford said.

 “We will be asking how we can eliminate barriers to trade in these goods and services that are so essential to a sustainable recovery and discussing how to rejuvenate the World Trade Organisation to provide consistent and transparent trade rules. 

 “Furthermore, we want to send a message about our priorities and commitment to the WTO Ministerial meetings at the end of this year. We will also be asking what contribution trade policy can make to respond to environmental problems like climate change and over-fishing,” Phil Twyford said.

 A day before the meeting, APEC trade ministers will also discuss with business leaders the big trade challenges at this critical time.

 “The choices we make right now matter. I hope we can look back at this time and know that the APEC Trade Ministers took the opportunity to join, work and grow together, to provide vital support for our region’s recovery, and to lay the foundations for a better future for us all,” Damien O’Connor said.

- Beehive