Updated 20 May 2020

New Zealand has been talking to and working closely with many partners, in various formats, as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, our priority is the well-being of New Zealanders and New Zealand’s and the region’s economic recovery from this crisis. New Zealand sees inherent value in international cooperation on this global issue.

One of the COVID-19-focused groups we have participated in has brought together senior diplomatic officials from a number of Indo-Pacific partners – New Zealand, Australia, the US, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Viet Nam – for regular discussions. The group has engaged regularly since 20 March.

This ad hoc group has enabled New Zealand and the other participants to share ideas and best practices for responding to the unique and complex challenges presented by the global pandemic, and to plan for safely re-opening our economies, while upholding fundamental Indo-Pacific principles of openness, transparency, respect for sovereignty and adherence to international law.

The calls have provided the opportunity to draw attention to the particular impacts of the crisis on our Pacific neighbours and to encourage support for Pacific countries.

Discussions have reinforced the importance of regional institutions, including APEC and ASEAN-led architecture such as the East Asia Summit, in facilitating cooperation and best practice in the region, given the importance of ASEAN centrality to those regional processes. Participants look to these regional organisations to take a leading role in coordinating responses to the COVID-19 crisis over the longer term.

Participants have emphasised the importance of upholding the international rules-based order as part of the broader pandemic response and of strengthening the ability of multilateral institutions to respond to health emergencies; and agreed also to counter any disinformation efforts through openness, transparency and international cooperation.

With international commercial transport options diminishing, the meetings also enabled countries to discuss how to maintain supply chains for essential food and medical goods; and facilitated our shared interests in repatriating our citizens.

New Zealand will continue to work with these and other international partners as we continue to work to advance the well-being of New Zealanders and our economy.