Fresh off a meeting with German Chancellor Angele Merkel Thursday, President Joe Biden is set to meet virtually with other world leaders to discuss how to recover the world economy after the pandemic.
The meeting will focus on the Pacific Rim, with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Russian President Vladimir Putin also expected to attend. They are all part of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
On Thursday, President Biden spoke with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, who will chair Friday’s meeting, according to a White House statement. The statement said the two leaders “agreed on the importance of multilateral institutions and economic cooperation throughout the region.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Arden reflected on the economic toll the pandemic has taken. “APEC economies have suffered their biggest contraction since the Second World War over the past year, with 81 million jobs lost,” Arden said. “Responding collectively is vital to accelerate the economic recovery for the region.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement now was a “critical time for Australia to engage with regional partners to promote free trade facilitation, in particular for vaccines and essential goods; build momentum for strengthening the multilateral trading system; and secure a sustainable and inclusive recovery.”
While the world economy will be one focus of the meeting, global vaccine rollout will be another. The issue has proven to be tricky, with multiple countries calling other countries out for not sharing their vaccines enough.
A senior Biden officials said Biden plans to use the virtual APEC retreat to talk to leaders about his administration’s efforts to serve “as an arsenal of vaccines to the world”. However, The United States has been accused by some of hoarding vaccines. Biden promised to deliver 80 million doses to the rest of the world by the end of June. By July 1, fewer than 24 million doses were delivered.
Meanwhile, Taiwan has accused China of tying the delivery of vaccines to political demands. The Taiwanese government said island China has also intervened to block vaccine deliveries to Taiwan from Japan and the United States.
China has their own accusations, saying Australia interfered in the rollout of Chinese vaccines in Papua New Guinea.