Wellington, Dec 1 (IANS) New Zealand kicked off its APEC host year on Tuesday, with a welcome ceremony held in Wellington’s waterfront.
“APEC is a hugely important international event, and New Zealand is hosting amidst the challenge of global disruption and pandemic,” Xinhua news agency quoted Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta as saying in a statement.
“The ‘powhiri’ (Maori for ceremony) is a unique opportunity to honor and welcome the international delegates who together represent a region of nearly 3 billion people across Asia-Pacific,” Mahuta said.
APEC 2021 will be one of the largest ongoing virtual events in the world, with more than 300 meetings conducted across New Zealand.
The ‘powhiri’ is one of the few physical events of New Zealand’s APEC virtual host year.
The first virtual APEC 2021 meeting, the Informal Senior Officials Meeting, will be held on December 9.
“In a world where we cannot travel due to Covid-19, maintaining contact, collaboration, and cooperation with our regional partners continues to be a key priority for New Zealand,” Mahuta said.
“Hosting APEC 2021 will provide an opportunity for New Zealand to work with our fellow economies on a number of significant issues, including strengthening the region’s response and recovery to Covid-19, keeping trade flowing, and building a more sustainable future in the Asia-Pacific region,” she said.
“We will also advocate for indigenous inclusion to be an ongoing and enduring policy priority within APEC. We must also ensure that APEC remains focused on enabling trade and economic growth that is inclusive and sustainable,” Mahuta said, adding that women, small and medium-size enterprises, indigenous populations and youth have been “disproportionately impacted economically by the pandemic”.