APEC to go virtual in NZ in 2021
New Zealand has announced that it will go ahead with hosting the APEC meeting in 2021, but that will it conduct the event using virtual digital platforms.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said the global disruption caused by COVID-19 had been the major factor in the pragmatic decision.
“COVID-19 has seriously impacted how we conduct international diplomacy. That includes hosting APEC. As has occurred with many other international government-to-government events, APEC21 will proceed using virtual digital platforms,” he said.
“Given the current global environment, planning to have such a large volume of high-level visitors in New Zealand from late 2020 onwards is impractical.
“For planning and security reasons, we had to make a call on our APEC hosting now. It wasn’t practical to wait for many more months till a clearer picture of the virus’s spread emerged,” Peters added.
“While Leaders’ Week isn’t till November 2021, if we had hosted an in-person APEC we would have seen thousands of people entering NZ from late 2020 onwards, some from COVID-19 hotspots. We simply couldn’t guarantee these people would be able to enter New Zealand without being quarantined.”
Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker said APEC “has an important role to play as we and the rest of the Asia Pacific region work to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, especially its economic impacts”.
“Deciding now on the different format of the APEC meetings gives certainty and allows us to focus on achieving meaningful outcomes through virtual means for New Zealand and the APEC membership,” he added.
“We will continue to look to find ways to showcase New Zealand and leverage the virtual hosting of APEC to our national advantage.”
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