New Zealand unites with APEC economies against protectionism

New Zealand unites with APEC economies against protectionism

KUALA LUMPUR: New Zealand has joined Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders in calls against protectionism, urging APEC to continue to commit towards keeping markets open and trade flowing.  

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said trade has been the engine of growth and prosperity in the region since APEC was founded 30 years ago.

“As we confront this generation’s biggest economic challenge, we must not repeat the mistakes of history by retreating into protectionism.

“APEC must continue to commit to keeping markets open and trade flowing. We are doing practical things to show that determination,” she said during the second day of the virtual APEC CEO Dialogues 2020 here today, in conjunction with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum’s virtual summit meeting.

Citing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), where 15 countries have come together to sign the world’s biggest free trade agreement, she said APEC economies must continue to ensure a level playing field and predictable rules for all exporters, both in the region and internationally.

Ardern added that economies should embrace digital technology and innovation in order to succeed in the 21st century.

 “All our economies need to make the right choices to ensure that all our people can connect; that they have the right skills to succeed in the digital world, and that we have the right frameworks in place to support trade and competition.

“As we look to build back better from COVID-19, this (digital trade) is a huge area of focus for New Zealand. This year, for instance, we created a Digital Economy Partnership Agreement with Chile and Singapore to help our exporters and small and medium enterprises take advantage of opportunities from digital trade,” she said.

Ardern said she hopes to see all Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders agreeing on a new vision for Asia-Pacific, which would act as a guide for efforts focusing on three engines of economic growth – trade; digital innovation; and sustainability and inclusion over the next 20 years.

In concluding her session, she said New Zealand will be the APEC host next year.

As the chair for 2021, Ardern said the country hopes for APEC economies to work together to reignite growth and plan for a long-lasting economic recovery.

She also hopes for the nations to work together; to show leadership and innovation and work for the collective good; as well as to foster prosperity and well-being that is sustainable, inclusive and digitally enabled.

“These are challenging times, but these times also offer a significant opportunity to do things differently, APEC included,” she added.