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New Zealand to use digital platforms to host virtual APEC summit next year

New Zealand to use digital platforms to host virtual APEC summit next year

New Zealand will use online platforms to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next year, PM Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday, citing uncertainty around travel due to the coronavirus.

“Actually, for the sake of certainty, let’s just plan for that virtual gathering,” Ardern said in Wellington. “That means that we don’t have the added cost [and] the added disruption that the uncertainty of Covid-19 brings.”

Early this month, New Zealand lifted all social and economic restrictions except border controls, after declaring it was free of the coronavirus. Ardern said the country has no plans to reopen its borders at present as infection rates around the world are still going up, Reuters reports.

Leaders of the 21 member countries were to gather for the APEC 2021 summit in New Zealand at the end of next year. The coronavirus outbreak has also forced this year’s summit host, Malaysia, to postpone a series of pre-event meetings. However, it remains committed to conducting the summit in November.