by | Nov 17, 2021 | Featured Articles, Media Releases


In a year of unprecedented challenge, New Zealand’s leadership in APEC and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) has helped the region to weather the storm of the pandemic and secure a better foundation for the future, says the New Zealand International Business Forum (NZIBF).

“2021 has been a very tough year for international trade,” said NZIBF Chair Philip Gregan. “Supply chains, markets and growth continue to be disrupted by COVID, and many businesses in New Zealand and around the region have struggled.

“A bright spot has been the leadership that New Zealand has demonstrated in its chairing of APEC this year. We express our thanks to the Prime Minister, Minister for Trade and Export Growth and their colleagues, very ably supported by officials led by Vangelis Vitalis and Mark Talbot”.

Mr Gregan says that APEC’s collaborative approach to shared challenges has contributed to the resilience of the Asia Pacific region.

“APEC Leaders issued a strong statement on 12 November which includes some very practical commitments designed to keep trade flowing, markets open and ensure that opportunities are accessible to all, in the region and around the world. The Aotearoa Plan of Action provides some concrete and verifiable processes to implement APEC’s Putrajaya Vision by 2040”.

Mr Gregan said that NZIBF particularly welcomed APEC’s strong support for the World Trade Organisation (WTO), ongoing commitment to the concept of the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) as well as new undertakings on digitalising border processes, led by New Zealand Customs.

“New Zealand exporters depend on openness, the rule of trade law and the ability to do business efficiently around the world. Giving exporters the choice to submit trade documents electronically has helped them overcome pandemic disruptions in many of our markets. New Zealand was successful in encouraging APEC economies to lock in those digital processes. Paperless trading can save time, money and hassle for businesses across the region – now and into the future. This is a great outcome for New Zealand exporters” Mr Gregan added.

NZIBF has played a role in APEC this year by providing advice and support to the New Zealand Members of ABAC.

“We were very proud to support New Zealand’s chairing of ABAC this year. ABAC Chair Rachel Taulelei, strongly supported by our Executive Director Stephen Jacobi and his team, showed exemplary leadership. The year’s work culminated in an outstanding Report to Leaders calling for ambitious outcomes on regional economic integration, sustainability, the digital economy and greater inclusion for smaller businesses, women and Indigenous people.

“New Zealand businesses are used to adversity, but this has been a truly testing year. It has never been more important to continue to champion open markets, reject protectionism and actively support sustainability and inclusion. We will continue to work closely with APEC, ABAC and our partners around the region to build a more seamless, resilient and inclusive Asia Pacific community,” Mr Gregan concluded.

For a copy of the ABAC Report: https://www.tradeworks.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/ABAC-Report-2021-Final.pdf.

The APEC Leaders’ Declaration can be found at https://www.apec.org/meeting-papers/leaders-declarations/2021/2021-leaders-declaration.


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