PM enroute to EAS, APEC

By Talisa Kupenga

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern departed New Zealand with a small delegation this morning, headed to Singapore to attend the East Asia Summit (EAS) before attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea during the weekend. 

Top of Ardern’s agenda at both summits will be matters of trade and security.

“New Zealand has benefited greatly from taking collaborative approaches to both security and trade issues," says Ardern, "We will continue to support the international rules and systems that protect and support this because it contributes to our prosperity and security.”

Ardern is one of 18 world leaders attending EAS, at its core the 10 nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (AESAN), including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, in addition to the USA, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Korea and India.

Key issues likely to be discussed include a path towards the denuclearisation of North Korea, managing disputes in the South China Sea and climate change.  The situation in Rakhine State in Myanmar is also likely to be discussed.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is also on the agenda, it is a proposed free trade agreement between the ASEAN members and the six Asian-Pacific states with which it has existing free trade agreements (Japan, China, Australia, NZ, South Korea, India).  New Zealand is yet to reach a trade agreement with India.

Ardern will likely use EAS as an opportunity to meet with leaders before the APEC summit.  Her first confirmed bilateral is with Australia's new prime minister, Scott Morrison.