Leaders representing the 21 Apec economies have pledged to push for widespread and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines and to "pave the way" for opening borders in a safe manner.
But those matters are far from simple, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, with a November timeline to lower vaccine tariffs, and different vaccine usage being a potential "sticking point" for more quarantine-free travel bubbles.
Ardern chaired a virtual informal Apec leaders' retreat overnight, which included US president Joe Biden, China president Xi Jinping, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and Japan's newish PM Prime Yoshihide Suga.
A collaborative response to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, in terms of both minimising its spread and boosting the economic recovery in a climate-friendly way, was a dominant theme, rather than regional security issues, Ardern said in her post-meeting press conference.
And she insisted there were no tensions between Biden and Xi.
The leaders' statement included pledges to "redouble our efforts to expand vaccine manufacture and supply", to strive for a sustainable economic recovery where no-one "should be left behind", and to bridge digital divides in a way that helps small and medium businesses in particular.
Leaders also committed to easing border restrictions.
"We must pave the way for the safe resumption of cross-border travel, without undermining efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19."
Asked what tangible steps might be made towards more quarantine-free travel bubbles by November, Ardern mentioned work on a global vaccine passport.
"I think the sticking point in part might actually be just the way that vaccines are regarded by [different countries]. And it's going to be an issue for the world."
There have been 50 million cases of Covid-19 within Apec's borders, and more than 1 million deaths.
The World Health Organisation has said 70 per cent of the world needs to be vaccinated by June next year.
A recent G7 pledge to share at least 870 million vaccines when the world needs 11 billion doses was described by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a "moral failure".
Ardern noted the leaders' support for what Apec trade ministers agreed to four weeks ago - removing tariffs on vaccines and vaccine consumables.
"It may surprise you to know that vaccines can in some cases face tariffs of 6 per cent, vials and packaging 20 per cent in some cases.
"We have challenged ourselves to make sure that we act on it over the coming months ... [but] the sooner the better."
The US is understood to be reluctant to lower such tariffs due to concerns about ongoing trade tensions with China.
Ardern said Apec wasn't the usual forum for countries to collectively commit money towards a global vaccine rollout.
"It would be a duplicate if they were the clearinghouse for vaccine rollout. [Global vaccine equity scheme] Covax is a facility that's already been used in that regard.
"What we absolutely have seen, and need to keep seeing - whether it's through the G7 or G20 - [is] countries making statements around the contribution to vaccine donation and vaccine purchases, and we absolutely continue to encourage that, including across Apec economies where they're able to do so."
Asked whether China, which announced a $3 billion Covid fund for developing countries at the meeting, was upstaging the rest of Apec, Ardern said: "No, not at all. Of course, we want to continue to encourage all economies to make contributions."
Might New Zealand contribute to that fund?
"The purpose of today wasn't about specific announcements necessarily from individual nations."
She added the meeting was about coming together to discuss, among other things, economic recovery and providing better access to vaccines.
Recovering from the 81 million Covid-related job losses was discussed in light of the climate crisis, but it remained to be seen whether there might be any traction on eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.
This is a drum Ardern has continued to beat, saying in 2017 in her Apec address: "Every year governments spend US$500 billion to subsidise fossil fuels, four times the amount we spend on renewable energy. We must phase them out. It is incumbent on us to begin incentivising investment in the right technologies."
She said two other themes that came through strongly in the meeting were that "this pandemic has a while to run" and that "this will not be the last pandemic we experience, and preparedness is critical".
The meeting was the first that Xi and Biden have attended together since Biden was sworn in six months ago.
Since then, the United States has declared that the era of engagement with China is over and it is now the era of competition.
It was also the first outing for Xi since his speech a couple of weeks ago when he said China's rise was inevitable and threatening a "wall of steel" of 1.4 billion people for any country that bullied, oppressed or subjugated China.
Ardern insisted there were no tensions between Biden and Xi, and regional tensions between China and the US were not discussed.
The meeting followed Ardern's positioning speech on Wednesday when she aligned New Zealand with the United States-led "Indo Pacific" club.
She said she wanted the concept of the Indo-Pacific to be "inclusive", and expressed concerns that not every country has equitable access to vaccines around the world.
She also had a phone call with Biden yesterday morning, in which she said they discussed the "critical importance of working together as a region to navigate out of the Covid-19 pandemic", and the "stability of the Indo-Pacific region".