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New Zealand to host meeting of APEC trade ministers

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New Zealand to host meeting of APEC trade ministers

APEC trade minister meeting
Photo: APEC.org

New Zealand Trade Minister Damien O’Connor will chair a meeting of trade ministers from the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum today.

New Zealand officials are expected to focus the annual ministerial meeting on ensuring an equitable economic recovery, particularly as growth divergence between wealthier members with access to vaccines and lower-income members widens.

APEC projects, with 6.3% economic growth within the Asia-Pacific region, will be slightly stronger than initially forecasted this year. Nevertheless, vaccine hesitancy in states including the Philippines has impeded efforts to reopen private businesses, curbing potential economic improvement. Although a lack of access to vaccines has hindered control of the virus in certain lower-income states such as Papua New Guinea, both Australia and New Zealand have experienced economic expansion in 2021’s second quarter.

New Zealand will likely use today’s meeting to promote suspension of intellectual property protections on vaccine patents and elimination of tariffs on vaccines and essential medical supplies. As there is widespread support for an intellectual property waiver among the bloc, APEC will likely endorse the measure today. However, proposals supporting tariff elimination will likely face steep resistance from other APEC members and are unlikely to be implemented in the short-term.

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