Focus on Covid, fossil fuels and US-China in APEC conclusion

New Zealand's hosting of the APEC leaders' summit finished on Saturday morning, with leaders from around the world gifted a koru pounamu and a garment made from Rakaia Gorge merino.

Jacinda Ardern chairing the 2021 APEC leaders' meeting.

The world leaders signed off on a declaration to support Covid vaccine equity, facilitate medical trade and bring down the cost of vaccines and Covid medical supplies.

The famous APEC shirts were this year made in New Zealand from Rakaia Gorge merino. The design represented Ngā Hau e Whā – the four winds. The women's version was a cape derived from the korowai, while the men's were slightly thinner in width and hung as a scarf.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the gift of the koru pounamu was "fitting, as we look to emerge together from a global pandemic".

Ardern spoke to New Zealand and international media after chairing the leader's meeting, which included the US, China, Indonesia, Australia, Chile, Mexico and Canada.

Ardern was asked questions around the commitment to freeze fossil fuel subsidies, tensions arising from the US' offer to host APEC in 2023, the spread of Covid misinformation and the reaction to controversial comments by China's President Xi Jinping.

He said during the opening of the summit that the Asia-Pacific region should not relapse "into the confrontation and division of the Cold War era" – as tensions continue over China's influence in the Pacific.

Ardern spoke to Xi Jinping ahead of the summit, revealing there was "considerable discussion" on New Zealand's concerns around Hong Kong and the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

There was also issues around the US' offer to host in 2023, with AP reporting there was not consensus in support for this bid. Talking to media after, Ardern said she was confident this would be resolved by the end of the year.

It comes as the US and China have promised to work together on climate change, confirming a virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and Xi Jinping on November 15.

A statement from the White House said the leaders would "discuss ways to responsibly manage" competition between the US and China, while promising that Biden would "make clear US intentions and priorities and be clear and candid about our concerns".

Vaccine equity, supporting trade of indigenous communities and women, and climate change were also key themes of the APEC summit.

Donned in her APEC garment, Ardern said the leaders were "more determined than ever to work together to defeat Covid-19, accelerate the region’s economic recovery, respond to climate change, and build growth that is inclusive of all our people".

In the meeting, the leaders agreed on the Aotearoa Plan of Action, and as well as promotion of trade, there were objectives to strengthen digital connectivity, enhance economic inclusion and to promote climate change action.

"While it underpins prosperity in the short term, leaders have also used the Aotearoa Plan of Action to focus on the choices that will support the Asia-Pacific’s future generations, like decarbonisation and empowering our Indigenous peoples," Ardern said.

They also signed off on the leaders' declaration, which focuses on making the Covid vaccine easier to access and the response to the challenges the Covid fallout will have on the economy, the people and the environment.

APEC Leaders issued a joint declaration to reject vaccine nationalism (ensuring APEC countries speed up vaccines coming through customs, lower vaccine tariffs and 'shun' export bans), digitalise trade, freeze the increase in fossil fuel subsidies and highlight 'Indigenous economies as a driver for recovery'.

The APEC leaders' week has Ardern called on political and business leaders to work together to build an equitable, inclusive and sustainable recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic in the opening of the APEC CEO Summit.

She also spoke to outgoing German chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, largely on climate change, and thanked Merkel for being "genuinely interested in the views of a humble New Zealander".

Thailand is set to host APEC 2022.