As five young New Zealanders attending the Voices of the Future Programme in Bali, we could have never anticipated the extent of the knowledge, ideas and insights we were soon to gain. Not just about other countries, but about ourselves, about New Zealand, and about our global society. It’s often said that from New Zealand, you can have the best ‘view of the world’ – where our isolation can lead to a unique and creative outlook on the world. By contrast, to view New Zealand, and our place in the Asia Pacific perhaps there is no better place than from the heart of the APEC CEO summit in Bali.
The Voices of the Future program for 2013 was rightly acclaimed as “the best yet”, and it was undoubtedly a life changing experience that none of us will ever forget.Youth representatives of 19 of the 21 APEC economies convened at the Ibis Hotel in Nusa Dua, Denpasar. The huge variety of cultures represented here was quite unique and special, allowing us to enjoy the experiences with friends from across the world.We would like to highlight five core learnings and outtakes from the VoF program:
Insights into Indonesian and Balinese Culture and country (An inspiring perspective on the massive 251 million person economy of Indonesia and the rich culture and traditions of the Balinese people)
Voices of the Future discussions and panels with business/political leaders (Unique opportunities to hear first hand insights and perspectives from global leaders, and practitioners of APEC trade relations)
Meeting with NZ ABAC members and Prime Minister ( Constructive and formative chances to learn about New Zealand specific activity around APEC and priorities and conversations, from the New Zealand ABAC members and Prime Minister Hon. John Key).
Spectating APEC CEO Summit ( a privileged chance to attend the CEO Summit, a gathering of 1200 top APEC CEO’s and political leaders, who discussed a variety of issues pertinent to our region.)
The creation of our own youth APEC Declaration (Presented to the Indonesian President to be considered as part of onwards discussions with the APEC leaders, as the Young people’s perspectives on priorities and issues in APEC).
1. Insights into Indonesian and Balinese Culture and country
Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago nation, with over 17,000 islands and 251 million people in 2012 – Bali itself, only represents some 0.49% of Indonesia’s total geography (surprising to many New Zealanders, who often have our first impressions of Indonesia formed by tourism stories of Bali). From a business point of view the economy is set to increase to 4.7trillion by 2025, offering huge potential for New Zealand trade to the growing middle-class. We had the unique chance to learn about Indonesia and the trade and economic activity and potential with APEC, through experiencing Bali (and the gathering of economic focus there around APEC).In Bali we were surrounded by rich Indonesian culture – the food, the temples, the traditional practises, the Kecak dance. It really made us think about what it means to be a New Zealander, and ultimately consider the importance of Maori culture to our nation. As well as this, we saw great possibilities in expanding the Maori economy through trading and learning from indigenous groups from other Asian economies.
Cultural highlights from the trip included the chance to visit The Green School – the worlds most eco-friendly school. Made entirely of bamboo and located in the Balinese jungle, this provided quite a polar view of schooling to the everyday New Zealander attending Ponsonby Primary School. Our visit to the Gelgel Palace was another highlight, as we had the honor of being served exquisite food by the royal families personal wait staff, and view the beautifully decorated temples.
2. Voices of the Future discussions and panels with business/political leaders
Unique access to hearing from ABAC and APEC business leaders allowed us to hear and dialogue about issues at the forefront of ABAC working groups and recommendations, and opportunities such as movement towards an APEC Free Trade area.An example of this, was the issue of labour mobility and supply chain management. During a key dialogue, NZ ABAC member Tony Nowell discussed the importance of countries working collaboratively when producing goods. We need to work to expand supply chains spanning across borders, allowing countries to add value to products by doing what they do best. In order for this to develop, we need to improve regulatory coherence and reduce the complexity of cross border movement.
Additionally, during the Ministerial sessions between the Voices group and the Indonesian Minister of Trade, H.E. Gita Wirjawan, we as a group collectively got to learn about the intersection between commerce and government, and the role of forums like APEC for promoting open discussion from Indonesia’s perspective. Minister Gita Wirjawan also told his personal story of choosing to follow his passions, and for example his journey from being the first Indonesian executive at JP Morgan – to his current role as Minister of Trade. Emily had the privileged chance to chair the dialogue between the Minister and the Voices participants – an opportunity she found very professionally challenging and rewarding with her role working with business community in New Zealand.
We were privileged to be represented by our head of state, Prime Minister John Key at the CEO summit. Quick to point out New Zealand leading the charge in developing free trade agreements with reference to our relationship with china, John did not hesitate to highlight our countries heavy involvement within the APEC economies.John concisely highlighted the strengths of free trade, reverting back to the benefits it has established for new Zealand, including the Chinese economy surpassing the United States of America as New Zealand’s second largest market and New Zealand being the largest dairy exporter in the world despite consisting of only 3% of the worlds dairy production. With these statistics he referred to the free trade agreements New Zealand possess as a massive contributor towards how the country makes such prominent achievements in international trade.While our Prime Minister referred to our international relationship with China numerous times, it was evident that the large nation had a strong interest in him in return, as he was swarmed with Chinese media immediately after he left the panel. Lester can confirm as he was hurled across the hall as a desperate Chinese journalist as they fought to catch the Prime Minister’s attention during his departure from the summit!
We also had the fantastic opportunity to have a meeting with one of New Zealand’s most experienced business leaders and APEC Business Advisory Council member, Wayne Boyd. Wayne spent around an hour with our New Zealand delegation, answering questions and providing valuable background to ABAC and New Zealand Inc. goals for APEC. The main NZ Inc. goal is an advancement of TPP as well as increased ‘connectivity’ and ‘transparency’ amongst APEC economies.A number of our questions were related to New Zealand and our economic future. Wayne touched on the importance to New Zealand’s economic growth of increasing the focus in education on science, technology, engineering and maths. We all agreed that this was would spur the types of innovation necessary to grow new Kiwi companies that would succeed internationally. One very interesting point Wayne made was that many successful Kiwi companies don’t have global aspirations, usually for one of two main reasons: First reason is that they tend to sell themselves off at an early stage to large overseas companies and do not retain the core business headquarters here. The second reason is that a number of business owners are content with running profitable small businesses, which provide them a bach and boat but they do not look to grow their companies globally and don’t want to give up their full ownership and control to do so.
Our conversation then moved to focus on the expanding Maori economic entities in New Zealand and the growing role they will play. We all felt that within APEC there was opportunity for indigenous groups to connect and engage economically as well as culturally.
Over lunch on Day 6, we had the privilege of hearing from the CEO of General Electric Indonesia, Handry Satriago. Handry spoke on the topic of leadership and in doing so touched on his own personal development as a leader, which was very inspiring. As a teenager he was struck by cancer and confined to a wheelchair, which he still must use to this day. He described his journey from total despair over his condition to the belief that the cancer and wheelchair had given him much more than it had taken away. We all came away feeling very humbled and sure that we would never complain about anything again!Handry firmly believes that the job of a leader is to create other leaders. The key messages we took away was that leadership is as much about how you relate to people, by inspiring them and including them, as it is about knowledge: “people with good grades do not always make good leaders” he said. He also mentioned the importance of creativity and the ability to say “why not” as much as “why”. When connecting the dots for an idea, the “why” creates dots, while the “why not” connects them. Steve Jobs, according to Handry, was so successful because he could connect the dots.It is safe to say that there wasn’t a lot of eating going on during this lunchtime session. Handry had the group’s undivided attention and gave us many great ideas to take away and ponder on.
3. Meeting with NZ ABAC members and Prime Minister
We were honored to attend a cocktail evening with the New Zealand ABAC members and our Prime Minister, in the evening after the first day of the Summit. This was located at the amazing Conrad Hotel, conveniently just across the road from where we were staying.
Having just seen John Key address a room filled with thousands of global business leaders on the importance of free trade, it felt quite surreal to have a friendly conversation with him over a glass of the local beer. We were particularly thankful for this opportunity when we considered how few other youth delegates have the opportunity to say hello to their head of state, let alone have a half hour chat with him. As we relaxed we grew eager to hear Key’s thoughts on the long term sustainable development of dairy exports and New Zealand’s stance on diversifying our industries. We also discussed and all agreed on the high value of Maori culture and values to our economy.
It was interesting to hear perspectives from the different ABAC members on New Zealand’s role in the APEC community. The phrase ‘New Zealand punches well above it’s weight’ is a cliche that we are all too familiar with, and one they were happy to dissect, clarifying that New Zealand’s success comes down to setting out with clear objectives and innovating in order to ensure success. Our time with the Prime Minister and the ABAC members was much appreciated and most enjoyable, definitely proving to be a highlight of the week.
4. Spectating APEC CEO Summit
From the heart of the APEC CEO Summit we have had the chance to get a world-class inside view into the conversations, challenges and opportunities of a high level business executive in Asia Pacific, alongside the opportunity to network with the 1200 business and trade leaders who are delegates.The need for innovation and entrepreneurship were consistent themes over the week. A number of leaders including the Prime Minister’s of Japan and Chile emphasized the need for a focus on education in science, technology, engineering and maths, in order to spur innovation and infrastructure development. This made our NZ group consider how that Internet based innovation is an opportunity ready to be further capitalized on, as it requires no major infrastructure or labor. As a nation proud of our innovative ways, we certainly have the ability to expand in this field.
5.The creation of our own youth APEC Declaration
As part of our summit, we prepared an APEC Youth declaration, which is presented to the APEC leaders to consider as issues of priority and opportunity as viewed by the next generation. This was presented to the country leaders to consider as they addressed in their discussions the focus for APEC 2013 – ‘Resilient Asia-Pacific: Engine of Global Growth’.For sustainable development, the key initiatives we recommended included developing pilot projects on micro-energy for rural communities, an APEC observatory for environmental monitoring and a focus on reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers for products promoting sustainable consumption. From these discussions, together with those in the wider APEC programme, as Kiwis we were really challenged to think and plan ahead with a ten year mindset – something which is innate in many other cultures within the economies of APEC, but as Kiwis we tend to think shorter term which can lead to us seizing opportunities, though can limit our potential to form solid personal and business relations.Gender equality, especially efforts to reach the greater potential for woman and the economy, was another key issue for young people. Presented perspectives included a focus on education and youth development as a key focus for APEC ln the years ahead,especially financial education and access, and addressing job creation and entrepreneurship for young people.
Another priority was on connectivity with free movement of students and greater ease in labour (especially short term) mobility within APEC countries. This will be important for addressing skills shortages, such as in Indonesia, not having enough access to skilled labour such as engineers, to meet the growth in these countries’ economy.Resilience, with a focus on sustainable development of infrastructure networks for crisis and recovery periods and environmental disaster prevention management is critical to address as many APEC economies are located in disaster prone areas, such as around the Pacific rim of fire. We spent a lot of thought as the New Zealand delegation on ways we and our businesses can offer special experience and expertise in earthquake management and building requirements, as an example of contributions to this priority.As youth leaders we also wanted to see a greater focus on food security. This again presents an opportunity for New Zealand as a country that relies on food and beverage exports, particularly to APEC regions, where we can alongside focusing on developing export markets, also support their ambitions to grow self-sufficiency. Examples include through sharing best practice in agricultural consultancy and agribusiness solutions and farming and horticulture training (including aid programmes).
Further insights to bring back to NZ
The first thing the experience really made clear was how interconnected New Zealand is with the Asia Pacific region. In an increasingly globalized world, these are our neighbors, and the economies that are becoming more and more important to us. By being aware and knowledgeable of these different countries and their cultures, New Zealand will be able to further our position on the world stage.The conference had a high emphasis on sustainable growth. It is clear that a focus on increasing output and profits will not be able to continue indefinitely, without considering the impacts that production and growth has on our people and environment.
This is where we realized the strength of the Maori business model of judging a company based on a quadruple bottom line –on economic, social, environmental and cultural outcomes. The Maori idea of holding today’s businesses accountable to the future generations is a model that NZ would benefit from embracing, and serve to both work towards wider APEC goals and at the same time differentiate New Zealand and allow us to showcase our rich heritage.
We would like to extend our combined appreciation for the Voices Organisers from Singapore (James, Aileen and Peng-rou) and especially from the New Zealand end, David Ward, Lester Khoo and to all of the New Zealand ABAC representatives, and especially Tony Nowell, Fiona Cooper-Clarke and Wayne Boyd for the time they took to meet with us, in their busy schedules.
We are particularly grateful for everything that David and Lester put into the trip. The group is in agreeance that they could not have done a better job as educators, and we managed to not get too sick of either of them, even after an entire week. Jokes aside, we were proud to tell other youths that these two were part of our kiwi team, and they would alway respond positively about their enjoyable and friendly conversations with David or Lester. Huge thanks to our educators for their generosity on the trip, the time they gave to us, supporting us, organising us and for making this trip happen.
Appreciation also to MFAT for the opportunity to meet with and dialogue with the New Zealand Prime Minister, during the key New Zealand Delegation networking event. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
We would all like to acknowledge and show our huge appreciation to the respective organisations who sponsored our travels; The Asia New Zealand Foundation, AUT, Te Puni Kokiri and Victoria University. Your sponsorship has provided us with a once in a lifetime opportunity, that has widened all of our perspectives and that none of us will ever forget.
APEC Voices 2013 - Bali, Indonesia
Young leaders from New Zealand attended the 2013 APEC CEO Summit in Bali, Indonesia. The delegates selected to attend the Voices programme at the annual CEO summit have had the chance to listen to and interview some of the key leaders from the 21 APEC economies.
Cowan Finch – Asia New Zealand
“One of the key highlights for me was listening to the 13 heads of state and the many business leaders who spoke at the APEC CEO Summit. The opportunity to observe Asia-Pacific politics and economic dialogue in action was fantastic. Another key highlight was meeting our fellow APEC Voices delegates,around 100 participants from 18 different member-economies. It was an great melting pot of cultures and many friends were made throughout the week.”
Emily Swan – New Zealand Trade and Enterprise
“APEC 2013 was a phenomenal opportunity to learn first hand about regional priorities and agendas. Already this has shaped my work with NZ companies expanding in Asia-Pacific, and coupled with opportunities to network amongst high level business leaders, and a unique chance to chair a dialogue between Voices participants and the Indonesian Minister for Trade, have challenged and grown my ability to contribute to NZ’s engagement in the APEC region.”
Jordan Grey – AUT
“APEC 2013 has expanded my background knowledge of economic development and international trade immensely. Coming from only possessing a local perspective of our own countries economy, I found it refreshing to be given the opportunity to be amongst twenty one other different economies and the chance to network with youth leaders from the same generation. The chance to meet some of the highest profile business leaders from our country made me realize the massive opportunities our Maori economy has for growth by investing internationally. Attending the summit has opened my mind to becoming more business-orientated in my work with AUT University, a key trait that I will be implementing into my thesis next year”.
Hana Maihi – Te Puni Kokiri
‘He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!’‘What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!’The memorable highlight is undoubtedly the people we met throughout the APEC 2013 Summit. From the Balinese hospitality and generosity, to networking with business innovators and the inspirational words and insights of world leaders. Sharing this remarkable experience with delegates from around the globe and my fellow NZ comrades was a truly invigorating and humbling experience. The opportunity to learn about key priorities and strategies within the Asia Pacific region has empowered me to foster new connections among people and different knowledge domains.
George Nelson – Victoria University
The opportunity to attend APEC 2013 was an absolute honor, a trip I will never forget and one that his changed both my perspective and path. It was unique and inspiring to hear from such a number of world and business, and their insights have enabled my personal outlook, and outlook for New Zealand to expand. I am lucky to be at the start of my degree, as the trip inspired me to expand my studies into International Business, Japanese and Maori Business with my ultimate aspirations now involving global business leadership. Another big highlight was the people we exchanged with an met during the trip, as Hana mentioned. From networking, socializing and laughing with other youth from all over the Asia Pacific, to smiling back at the friendly Balinese and getting the chance to chat with the Prime Minister, the huge variety of great people we were able to share this experience truly made the trip special.