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ABEC Meeting Brings Global Business Heavyweights To Wellington

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Feb 6 NZPA - Some of the biggest names in world business will be in Wellington next week to discuss and feed ideas into the Asia Pacific Economic Forum.

The first meeting of the Apec Business Advisory Council (Abac) this year is expected to warn against knee-jerk regulation to combat the global financial crisis.

"We have the 21 economies of Apec represented here with senior business people from all of those economies coming in," said New Zealand delegate Tony Nowell, who chairs the group's liberalisation working group this year.

"It is a great opportunity to expose New Zealand," he said.

The delegates include Oleg Deripaska, one of the richest oligarchs in Russia, and Alexander Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russian energy giant Gazprom, which had the standoff with the Ukraine over gas supply.

Jack Ma, the boss of Alibaba Group, the world's largest online business-to-business marketplace, is attending and is seen as a big supporter of small and medium-sized businesses.

Anthony Nightingale, managing director of Hong Kong's largest private employer Jardine Matheson, is also attending along with Richard Li, chairman of telecommunications giant PCCW Ltd, and son of Li Ka-shing, the richest person of Chinese descent in the world.

Lili Wang a board member of Chinese banking giant ICBC is among the bankers attending, along with Maquarie Bank deputy chairman Mark Johnson, Andrey Kostin from Russia's VTB Bank and Jeffrey Koo, chairman of Chinatrust Financial Holdings.

Lindsay Fox, the Australian logistics magnate who owns assets in New Zealand, is also among the 200 delegates expected at the meeting, which is closed.

The group generally releases a communique, expected on Thursday, and letters to senior officials at Apec.

"It is that twilight zone between business and diplomacy," Mr Nowell said.

Abac is expected to warn governments not to give in to pressures for short-term regulatory and protectionist solutions to the financial crisis.

But equally it is likely to call for bold measures to stimulate economic activity.

Abac New Zealand will support discussion of the concept of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, and enlargement of the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership.

The New Zealand delegates are John Blackham, chief executive of XSOL Ltd, Mr Nowell, and Gary Judd, chairman of ASB Bank.

Abac comprises three members from each of the 21 Apec economies, appointed by leaders in each economy.

Other topics expected to come up are energy security and climate change, doing business across borders, intellectual property, food security, labour mobility, supply chain logistics and investment.

The Wellington meeting will be preceded by a joint Abac/Apec workshop on the theme of trading across borders.

It is the first meeting of the group in New Zealand since 2004.

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