She made the call opening the virtual APEC CEO Summit on Thursday, which is the largest business conference in the Asia-Pacific region.
Chief executives, business leaders, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and prime ministers and presidents of APEC economies were present.
Ardern said Covid-19 had dealt the 21 APEC economiesa “heavy burden” but there was an opportunity to “strike an economic reset on a scale we haven’t seen since World War II”.
She said this could not just be between governments and an inclusive, sustainable recovery and economic resilience in the region had to include business.
The prime minister said there were three areas where government and business could work together.
These were digital, inclusion, and sustainability and climate change. Trade was wrapped up into this.
Ardern described the pandemic as accelerating progress in digital transformation “by years”.
Inclusion was not just about combating inequality, she said, but maximising benefits from an engaged, productive labour force.
“The adoption of gender responsive policies and business practices will enable women and girls to participate in, and benefit from, the recovery from Covid-19,” she said.
Empowering indigenous peoples was part of this.
On sustainability and climate change, Ardern said the world could not return to business as usual in the face of Covid-19.
Investment in innovative businesses and green products was integral in the transition to a low carbon future.
“It’s been an honour to reflect with you on a tough year, as we look to the future, and work hard to generate further opportunity for partnership —whatever the future may hold,” Ardern closed.
“I look forward to our continued work together.”
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