Cook Islands PM to attend APEC Leaders Summit

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna speaks at the 50th anniversary of self government for the Cook Islands. Photo: Cook Islands Government

RAROTONGA, 07 NOVEMBER 2018 (COOK ISLANDS GOVT) – Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna will join Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in a dialogue with APEC Leaders hosted by Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby later this month.

The APEC process involves 21 economies which include Japan, Singapore, the People’s Republic of China, Russia, the United States, Philippines and others; and from the PIF Group Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

APEC represents approximately 59 per cent of the world’s GDP and 49% of world trade and the Annual APEC Leaders Meeting entails discussions that promote free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.

This is the first time PNG is hosting APEC and is also the first time PIF Leaders have been invited to attend in APECs 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,” said Puna.

“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.”

In addition to the PIF-APEC Leaders’ Summit, while in Port Moresby the Prime Minister will join with 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 diplomatic relations between the Cook Islands and China and discussions with President Xi are expected to include the region’s priorities as articulated by PIF Leaders, current co-operation 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 have 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 fora.”

The Cook Islands delegation will also meet with other APEC delegations while in Port Moresby, including New Zealand, Australia, Japan and other APEC members in attendance.

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