APEC leaders reject vaccine nationalism, don New Zealand-made merino wool

The Prime Minister has rebuffed China's concerns of a trade division.

Jacinda Ardern chaired an APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting overnight, where they discussed COVID-19, the economic recovery from the pandemic and climate change.

Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week warned members not to "relapse into the confrontation and division of the Cold War era", understood to be a jab at Australia, which has been involved in a trade war with the Asian giant. 

During a briefing, Ardern told media all the 21 countries are uniting around the same priorities.

"This is the exact time, in an economic shock like this, that you would expect potentially retrenchment and nationalism in the way that we treat critical goods and services, or trade policy generally. And yet we have not seen that this year…

"We are focused on driving a coordinated economic response to the biggest downturn in 75 years... creating new models of economic growth that work for all, and responding to climate change."

A joint declaration issued by the leaders after the meeting included a rejection of vaccine nationalism - where countries compete, rather than cooperate, on getting jabs. Uncontrolled outbreaks in one country can spill into others - as New Zealand has learned - and can also result in deadly variants, like Delta. 

"We've got vaccines moving across borders more quickly, and no APEC economy has introduced export restrictions on vaccines since trade ministers met in June," said Ardern.

Other steps made at APEC include digitising trade processes to reduce paperwork and expenses, halting increases to fossil fuel subsidies, including more views from indigenous people and economies, and a commitment to "find ways to cut red tape, reduce the cost of doing business, and make it faster to start a business".

"The new Aotearoa Plan of Action, agreed to by all Leaders, sets out a plan for APEC’s work through until 2040," said Ardern. 

At each APEC leaders' meeting, heads of state typically don the host country's traditional garment. This year it was a koru pounamu and a garment made from Rakaia Gorge merino.

Thailand will host APEC in 2022. The leaders' statement didn't mention a US offer to host the gathering in 2023. Russia is reportedly against the idea.