New Zealand's PM Ardern says special Apec meeting to focus on economic impact of Covid-19 pandemic

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on July 14 no major announcement is expected at the meeting of Apec leaders this week. PHOTO: AFP

WELLINGTON (REUTERS) - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday (July 14) that a special meeting of leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) trade group this week will discuss the global economic impact of Covid-19 and no major announcement is expected.

Apec host New Zealand said earlier this week it will chair the informal meeting of Apec leaders ahead of a formal gathering in November, the first time such an additional meeting has been held.

Ms Ardern has said United States President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the two-hour virtual meeting, to be held on Friday.

She could not confirm if Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend.

"It is extraordinary that we have brought this meeting together outside of the Apec leaders retreat, but that's because of the circumstances," Ms Ardern said in Wellington.

"Here we literally want to bring leaders together to discuss economic impacts and the latest from the World Health Organisation," she said.

In a meeting last month, Apec trade ministers agreed to review trade barriers and expedite the cross-border transit of Covid-19 vaccines and related goods, but stopped short of a broad commitment to remove tariffs.

Ms Ardern said the agreement has made a difference in the flow of vaccine consumables.

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