Australia

World leaders attend special APEC meeting on pandemic

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is set to join world leaders at an informal APEC meeting to discuss the health and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is hosting the online Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ retreat on Friday night, which is also expected to involve US President Joe Biden, Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

It is the first time in the regional forum’s history that leaders have held an extraordinary meeting at leaders’ level.

APEC’s 21 members have suffered their biggest contraction since WWII, with 81 million jobs lost and a contraction of 1.9 per cent of GDP.

Ms Ardern wants to discuss immediate measures to achieve more coordinated regional action to assist recovery, as well as longer term plans.

“Nobody is safe until everyone is safe,” she said earlier this week.

Mr Morrison said APEC had a proven track record of bringing the region’s economies together to enhance cooperation.

“It is a critical time for Australia to engage with regional partners to promote free trade facilitation, in particular for vaccines and essential goods, build momentum for strengthening the multilateral trading system, and secure a sustainable and inclusive recovery,” he said in a statement on Friday.

Ahead of the meeting, Ms Ardern spoke on the phone with US President Joe Biden about efforts to end the pandemic and support the global economic recovery.

The full APEC leaders’ summit is due to be held online in November.

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