Prime Minister opens APEC CEO Summit

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called for political and business leaders to work together to build a strong, equitable and sustainable recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Delivering the keynote address to a global business audience at the APEC CEO Summit, the largest business conference in the Asia-Pacific region that runs adjacent to APEC’s Leaders’ Week meetings, Jacinda Ardern acknowledged the scale of the pandemic’s impacts, the inequitable effect it has had on people, and the varied challenges economies have faced.

“But there is now little doubt that staying on top of the virus provides options when it comes to responding to the economic challenges before us,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“As we prepare for the post-pandemic era, we need to continue to strengthen the partnership between government and business. Together, we need to set the stage for an equitable, inclusive and sustainable recovery that invests in our people and our planet through innovative ideas and renewed resolve,” Jacinda Ardern said.

She outlined three areas where political and business leaders could work together to achieve an economic recovery to weather future economic shocks.

“We must unlock efficiency and productivity gains that digital innovation offers. After years of talking about the digital transformation, COVID-19 has accelerated progress by years,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Workplaces and businesses must be inclusive of everyone across our communities, particularly women and indigenous peoples. They have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s effects but are an engaged and productive labour force that have much to contribute. In New Zealand alone, the Māori economy is now worth NZD$70 billion,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Environmental sustainability was the third area for increased political and business cooperation, she said.

“I’m proud of the progress APEC has made this year, including in beginning to turn the tide on the adoption of fossil fuel subsidies which have created devastating environmental degradation by masking the true cost of fossil fuels and inhibiting the transition to adoption of renewable alternatives,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Jacinda Ardern acknowledged that addressing such systemic issues would demand increased political and business cooperation.

“We have been dealt an opportunity to strike an economic reset on a scale we haven’t seen since World War II. Implementing this level of change during such challenging times will require real courage from all of us, political leaders and business leaders alike.

“APEC Leaders stand with the business community to ensure everyone has the opportunity to pull through the pandemic stronger than they were before,” Jacinda Ardern said.