New Zealand's hosting of APEC 2021 summit to be virtual

New Zealand’s hosting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) next year will be held virtually. 

Pacific leaders meet at APEC 2018 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Source: Office of the Prime Minister of Canada

APEC draws world leaders, business leaders and international media. It comprises of multiple meetings of top level officials over the year, with the most important 'Leaders' week' that was set for November 2021.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said Covid-19 "seriously impacted how we conduct international diplomacy".

"For planning and security reasons, we had to make a call on our APEC hosting now. It wasn’t practical to wait for many more months till a clearer picture of the virus’ spread emerged."

"Given the current global environment, planning to have such a large volume of high-level visitors in New Zealand from late 2020 onwards is impractical."

"We simply couldn’t guarantee these people would be able to enter New Zealand without being quarantined."

New Zealand's APEC hosting had already faced issues after the planned location of Sky City convention centre after a fire ripped through the the construction site. 

Trade Minister David Parker told Newsroom earlier this month that New Zealand's hosting rights faced potential delay due to the pandemic. 

The week was estimated to draw 10,000 people - with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling the meeting in New Zealand a "once every 20 years investment and opportunity". 

APEC was cancelled last year in Chile due to unrest. In 2018, it was held in Papua New Guinea, marred by sparring between the US and China that were locked in a trade dispute.

It was last held in New Zealand in 1999 under former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley.