The APEC process involves 21 countries including Japan, Singapore, the People’s Republic of China, Russia, the United States, Philippines and others. From the PIF Group come Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
APEC represents around 59 per cent of the world’s GDP and 49 per cent of world trade and the Annual APEC leaders’ meeting features discussions that promote free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.
This is the first time PNG has hosted APEC and is the first time PIF leaders have been invited to attend in APEC’s 29-year history.
“I want to commend prime minister O’Neil for embracing our Pacific Leaders in this engagement with APEC,” said Puna.
“This APEC/PIF Leaders Summit is an invaluable opportunity to discuss with APEC Leaders our Blue Pacific priorities, as articulated at our Annual PIF Summit in Nauru a few weeks ago and garner an understanding of APECs priorities and where there might be scope for trade and economic co-operation between us.”
“For the Cook Islands, PNG’s theme for this year’s APEC Summit of ‘Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future’ is a particularly relevant one, given our own recent efforts and investment towards strengthening the Cook Islands international connectivity through the Manatua Cable in partnership with Samoa, French Polynesia, Niue and New Zealand.”
While in Port Moresby the prime minister will also join other Pacific Leaders for a meeting with president of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, who will be attending the APEC Summit.
Last year marked 20 years of diplomatic relations between the Cook Islands and China and discussions with Xi are expected to include the region’s priorities as articulated by PIF Leaders, current cooperation and possible future initiatives.
“We have a maturing relationship with China which we’ve evolved collaboratively with them over the last 20 years,” said Puna.
“They have been a valuable and constructive partner who has supported our development priorities for a number of years and I look forward to meeting with president Xi to discuss current and possible future co-operation initiatives, both the bilateral and our collaborations in the multilateral (setting).”
The Cook Islands delegation will also meet with other APEC delegations while in Port Moresby, including New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
The prime minister will leave Rarotonga on Monday. The meeting will be held from November 12 to 18.