Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

City gearing up for 2021 Apec hoopla

Hillary Clinton is a possible for the 2021 summit.  Photo / AP
Hillary Clinton is a possible for the 2021 summit. Photo / AP

Work will begin this year on Auckland's hosting of the world's most powerful politicians and thousands of delegates, security staff and hangers-on in five years' time.

Whether a rumoured New Zealand visit this year by United States President Barack Obama eventuates or not, a future leader - President Donald Trump or President Hillary Clinton, perhaps - is likely to attend the Apec leaders' summit, to be hosted by Auckland in 2021.

When NZ hosted the summit in 1999 US President Bill Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin came to town, with Clinton in particular getting a rock star welcome.

Locals lined the streets to glimpse his motorcade, which was protected by a huge security detail, including a helicopter tracking the presidential limousine.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said preliminary scoping for the summit would start this year, with detailed planning closer to the event.

No dates had been decided but the Apec summit was usually hosted between September and November, the spokeswoman said.

Recent summits have had roughly 5000 to 7000 delegates and 3000 to 4000 media representatives.

Hosting will put pressure on a city of Auckland's size, with at least 10,000 visitors expected.

Last year's host, Manila, closed roads and diverted traffic from major routes, disrupting it and forcing some commuters to walk to work.

Several major airlines cancelled flights to clear the way for Apec arrivals and departures, and groups took the chance to stage protests.

The event could require a law change, too - in 1999 the Government passed the Arms Amendment Act, which expired after the summit, allowing the authorisation of foreign protection officers to carry weapons.

Apec was set up in 1989 to foster growth and trade in Asia-Pacific. Its 21 members include New Zealand, Australia, the US, China, Canada, and Japan.

Peru will host this year's leaders' meeting in November, shortly after the US elections. President Obama is expected to attend, ahead of the US President-elect being sworn-in on Inauguration Day on January 20 next year.

- NZ Herald

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