20 Nov 2018

'Significant consensus' at APEC - Jacinda Ardern

From Morning Report, 7:24 am on 20 November 2018

The failure of APEC leaders to agree on a joint statement has exposed the deep divisions between the United States and China on trade and security.

Trade Minister David Parker was at the summit and said New Zealand could play a role as a bridge between China and the US and position itself as an "honest broker".

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has just returned from Papua New Guinea where the summit was held. She talks to Guyon Espiner.

She says she isn't taking sides in the trade war between the world's two superpowers after tensions ran high at the summit.

"Our application of our values-based approach actually is what an independent forum policy is all about. For us it's not about picking sides, I think there is an issue with the increasing rhetoric around you're either one lane or the other.

"Some of these issues aren't black and white, but we will always make a decision on issues based on those principles. For instance, we're unashamed multilateralists - we do ask other that countries apply the rules of trade, we do believe with the WTO [World Trade Organisation] is an important forum but we also agree there's a need for reform.

"No-one here is drawing a comparison about the relative importance of each relationship, rather the role that we can play internationally on a particular issue of global strategic importance, which is trade, and where New Zealand have a good reputation.

"In the area of WTO reform we can play a role, we can act in the interest of trading nations and small island trading nations, rather than a self-interested position, which I do think can make us an honest broker.

"We are a trading nation, we rely on trade and we rely on the predictability of people applying the rules and the rules being applied fairly."