Prime Minister John Key has told business leaders at the Apec summit in Lima they must urge their governments to deliver trade liberalisation and help the world recover from the financial crisis.
Mr Key used his first speech to an international audience, the chief executives meeting ahead of the Apec summit, to emphasise the severity of the situation.
"The party is over. Taxpayers around the world are left to underwrite - in one form or another - the liabilities and obligations of banks and, by extension, their hedge fund clientele," he said.
"We have seen an expansion of credit and leverage at levels that were so unprecedented and arguably so uncontrolled that they now threaten the very stability of the world's banking system."
The Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum's 21 member countries account for half the world's trade and nearly 60 per cent of its gross domestic product.
Mr Key told the business leaders the region was still the growth engine of the world and crucial decisions had to be taken to conclude World Trade Organisation negotiations and open up world trade.
"Against the background of the international economic turmoil, a failure to follow through in Geneva and deliver the results we need would represent nothing short of a political failure," he said.
"It is here that business leaders such as yourselves have a vital role to play. The task falls to you to urge your governments to make the moves necessary to deliver further trade liberalisation."
Mr Key said it was the wrong time for any country to allow their own worsening domestic economy to lead to a retreat from global trade.
The prime minister arrived in the Peruvian capital today, well briefed on what to expect after discussing Apec for nearly an hour with Labour's foreign affairs spokeswoman and former prime minister Helen Clark.
Miss Clark attended nine Apec summits while her government was in office.
Mr Key, who holds the tourism portfolio in his new government, told reporters the international recession could have a severe impact on the industry.
If visitor numbers dropped by 10 per cent, the $10 billion a year industry would lose $1 billion, he said.
The Apec summit takes place this weekend and Mr Key will be alongside prime ministers and presidents from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.
Mr Key has several high-level bilateral meetings lined up and is likely to hold talks with China's President Hu Jintao.
He leaves Lima on Monday and goes to London, where he will meet the Queen, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other political leaders before coming home.