New Zealand kicks off APEC host year. (Credit: twitter.com/apec2021NZ). Image Source: IANS News

Wellington, Dec 11 : New Zealand has confirmed its APEC host year priorities with a focus on responding to the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, as its first APEC 2021 virtual meeting took place from Wellington on Friday.

The Informal Senior Officials' Meeting included a symposium, which brought together global thinkers on issues important to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), an informal plenary meeting and an informal retreat, Xinhua news agency reported.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the 21 APEC member economies.

"At the Informal Senior Officials' Meeting each year, the APEC economies discuss and prioritize all of the work that will take place throughout the following APEC year," said Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, in a statement.

"This week's meeting has provided an opportunity for fresh discussions on the things that matter most to Asia-Pacific economies.

"New Zealand shared its host year priorities and there was broad agreement that much of the focus in the year ahead will be on Covid-19 and supporting the Asia-Pacific region's economic response and recovery" Maria added.

"In the wake of the unprecedented health and economic crisis caused by Covid-19, it is clear that the immediate economic response to Covid-19 will dominate APEC discussions in 2021, but as we work to recover, we also need to focus on building back better," said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who will chair APEC in 2021.

"There has never been a more important time for the region to join, work, and grow together - to share, rebuild, and recover APEC's growth trajectory," she said, citing New Zealand's theme for APEC 2021.

Economic activity in the APEC region is expected to contract in 2020, the first time in three decades.

Ardern urges APEC member economies to work together in the spirit of cooperation to address these challenges effectively.

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