Thailand received APEC chair handover from New Zealand

National pride was on display for both Thailand and New Zealand last week as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha accepted the chairmanship of APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) on behalf of the Kingdom from his counterpart Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a virtual handover ceremony.

Thailand will host APEC Summit 2022 in Bangkok next November. Prayut declared the theme of the multinational gathering would be “Open. Connect. Balance.” He called for member countries to create an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful APEC.

In an exchange that brought smiles all around, Prime Minister Ardern presented Prime Minister Prayut with a carved wooden canoe paddle, a traditional tool of the New Zealand’s indigenous Maori tribe. A paddle had been shipped ahead to Bangkok because of the virtual nature of the handover.

“Traditionally, building a waka (canoe) involved entire Maori communities working in harmony toward a common goal. These waka enabled Maori to traverse vast expanses of ocean. Likewise, building APEC prosperity requires collaborative effort from all the APEC economies to reach a common goal,” Ardern said.

“New Zealand is confident that Thailand would paddle the APEC canoe forward with enthusiasm, creativity and ingenuity,” Ardern said.

In a speech to the APEC CEO Summit, Prayut said APEC would present opportunities for its members to build a sustainable and balanced post-COVID future. He touted Thailand’s ongoing transition to a Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economic Model as part of the Kingdom’s strategy for post-COVID economic recovery.

The Prime Minister also highlighted priority areas including reconnecting the region in a safe and seamless manner; rejuvenating trade and investment by taking the lead in advancing free and open trade and investment; strengthening the rules-based multilateral trading system; and deepening regional economic integration with a view to realising the FTAAP agenda.

He also praised New Zealand’s leadership during its year as chair country of APEC. “The 2021 APEC, hosted by New Zealand and in the spirit of cooperation, has proven that APEC can stand up to challenges through public health rehabilitation, border re-openings, and economic recovery, all for the better livelihood of the people, the world we live in, and shared prosperity,” Prayut said.

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