Opinion: APEC is Ardern versus the world

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 31:  Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during a post cabinet press conference at Parliament on October 31, 2017 in Wellington, New Zealand. Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was sworn in on 26 October as the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand. After failing to win an outright majority in the general election on September 23,  Labour entered into a coalition agreement with the New Zealand First and Greens parties.  (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

OPINION: Jacinda Ardern is about to hit the international stage at the APEC conference in Vietnam as one of the 21 world leaders. Here are her five big challenges.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump Photo credit: Getty

1. Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump dominates global affairs, and he will dominate APEC.

It is his chance to show how the United States will operate in foreign affairs post-Obama.

Jacinda Ardern will not have a formal sit-down meeting with the President, but they are expected to meet and have some kind of chat.

Ms Ardern needs to get some face-time with the POTUS, even if it is just a chat.

Given it is Mr Trump, anything could happen.

How 'The Jacinda' handles even a routine meeting with 'The Donald' will be one to watch.

Vladimir Putin.
Vladimir Putin. Photo credit: Getty

2. Vladamir Putin

Vladamir Putin likes to make his presence felt. He likes to show he is a global power, and he will be making moves at APEC.

The eyes of the world will be on how he and Donald Trump interact.

And Russia is suddenly on New Zealand's radar again, given the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement wants a free trade deal.

Ms Ardern will get a chance to rub shoulders with the Russian President - can she turn it into face-time?

Winston Peters has already been sizing up Russia's foreign affairs enforcer Sergey Lavrov, so anything could happen.

This could be an entire new frontier for New Zealand.

Kim Jong-un
Kim Jong-un Photo credit: Reuters

3. North Korea

North Korea is obviously the big global issue right now.

But what, if any, meaningful action can New Zealand have beyond diplomatic tough talk?

Ms Ardern is on record as saying she doesn't want to do anything without a United Nations mandate, but what if countries like the US, Japan and Australia want to do more?

The US says a ground invasion would be needed to get its nuclear arsenal. Would Kiwi troops be requested? It gets less and less hypothetical by the day.

The pressure will come for New Zealand's position and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be sure to raise it in a one-on-one.

Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Chinese president Xi Jinping. Photo credit: Getty

4. China

China. Never forget China.

It has huge sway over New Zealand economically and we have effectively nothing to fire back.

Ms Ardern will see its super-powerful President Xi Jinping and face-time is likely.

She may even have a sit-down with the second-in-charge, Premier Li Keqiang.

China doesn't muck around - it will want to gauge where Ms Ardern is at.

They may well ask about the foreign buyers ban. Awkward.

Opinion: APEC is Ardern versus the world
Photo credit: File

5. The TPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the trade deal that just won't die.

In fact it is suddenly very much alive, and Ms Ardern may be a part of helping it live forever.

She will attend a big meeting of leaders who want to keep this going without the US.

It would be a trade coup if she is involved with signing it off - although TPP-sceptic left wing voters in New Zealand might not like it.

It will take more than a smiley photo with Canada's Justin Trudeau to allay their fears. 

As always, TPP will be a very tricky issue.

Patrick Gower is Newshub's political editor.