APEC leaders get down to business

  • 19/11/2015
Barack Obama and John Key (Brook Sabin/3 News)
Barack Obama and John Key (Brook Sabin/3 News)

By Sarah Robson

The 21 world leaders at this year's APEC summit in Manila will be getting down to business today, squirrelled away at the all-important leaders' retreat.

Prime Minister John Key will be talking trade, the economic outlook in the Asia-Pacific and the prospects for further regional integration with the likes of US President Barack Obama, new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The picture isn't entirely rosy, with concerns about the wider impact of the slowdown in China and Japan's dip back into recession.

While APEC's focus is primarily on economic matters, the threat of terrorism won't be far from the minds of leaders.

It's expected the deadly weekend attacks in Paris and subsequent police raids in the French capital will be a major point of discussion.

But APEC isn't without its lighter moments.

Last night, the leaders donned their so-called "silly shirts" for the annual APEC "family photo".

A long-standing tradition at the summit, the host country is charged with designing an article of clothing - typically based on their national dress – for the leaders to wear for the much anticipated photo op.

This year's garment, a Filipino barong tagalog, is a semi-sheer shirt made from pineapple fibre and silk.

Designer Paul Cabral hand-embroidered the shirts with specially tailored national symbols for each leader.

Meanwhile, on the sidelines of this year's APEC meeting, the leaders of the 12 countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) have met for the first time since the agreement was concluded last month.

At the meeting hosted by Mr Obama yesterday, leaders discussed the next steps required by each country to ensure the TPPA can be fully enacted as quickly as possible.

They also talked about the process for allowing other countries to join the TPPA.

Indonesia, the Philippines and China have all expressed an interest in doing so.

Mr Key also had time for formal talks with Mr Xi, with the pair discussing a wide range of issues including foreign investment, China's economic outlook and the disputes in the South China Sea.

New Zealand is also pushing to formally kick off the process to renegotiate its free trade agreement with China.