Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis Recap of APEC 2023 Summit

For Immediate Release
Monday, November 20, 2023
Contact:, (916) 445-8994

– Last week, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis met with world leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit hosted in San Francisco to promote climate action and economic cooperation between California and the broader Asia-Pacific region. The Lieutenant Governor participated in seventeen APEC events and five bilateral meetings with foreign dignitaries.

The California delegation at APEC was led by Governor Gavin Newsom and Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis. When the United States was selected to host APEC, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis urged U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to choose San Francisco as the APEC host city. After San Francisco was selected, she served as Finance Chair of the San Francisco Host Committee, spearheading the effort to raise the funds necessary for the city to host APEC.

Governor Newsom, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis, and other dignitaries meet with the Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese.


Image of Lt. Gov. Kounalakis, Gov. Newsom, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, and other dignitaries at a table talking

Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis, Governor Newsom, and other dignitaries meet with the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

“When we first learned that the U.S. would be the host country for APEC this year, we immediately told the White House and the State Department that there is no better venue in our great country to host the APEC leaders than San Francisco.

“Situated on the Pacific Rim, we have traded with the countries of Asia and the west coast of Latin America since the earliest days of our history. Today, over 40 percent of all inbound container traffic to the United States, most of which originates in the APEC economies, passes through ports located in California.

“California’s ties to the Asia-Pacific region, both economically and culturally, surpass those of all other states, as do our relations with the APEC economies.”
-Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis


In celebration of APEC, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis joined various welcome receptions to greet visitors to the Golden State. On Sunday, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis joined the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) for a Welcome Reception co-hosted by San Francisco Mayor London Breed to kick off the conference officially. On Wednesday, the Lieutenant Governor joined the APEC Leaders’ Welcome Reception at the Exploratorium to welcome President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden. Later that evening, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis joined business leaders to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping to San Francisco. The Lieutenant Governor provided closing remarks at a dinner hosted by the U.S.-China Business Council (USCBC) and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations (NCUSCR).

During the week, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis met with leaders from Canada, Singapore, Australia, and China.

  • Canada: On Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis met with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly to discuss ways to strengthen the California-Canada partnership on trade, emerging technologies, and climate change. The meeting also discussed Canada’s and California’s priorities in the Indo-Pacific region and how we can strengthen North America’s partnerships. On Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis joined Governor Newsom for a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss progress made on the climate partnership California and Canada launched last year. The conversation also included California and Canada’s strong economic and trade relationship, with Canada being California’s 3rd-largest trade partner and 4th largest source of foreign investment.
  • Singapore: On Tuesday morning, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis met with U.S. Ambassador to Singapore Jonathan Kaplan to discuss the economic partnership between California and Singapore. Later in the day, the Lieutenant Governor joined Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for the opening of the San Francisco office of Enterprise Singapore, the second such office in California devoted to strengthening business ties between California and Singapore. On Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis joined Governor Newsom for a bilateral meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to advance bilateral relations, including trade, economic development, and climate cooperation. Singapore is a key economic partner for the Golden State, with Singapore being California’s 12th-largest trading partner and 11th-largest export market.
  • Australia: On Thursday, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis joined Governor Newsom for a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. The discussion included opportunities for Australia and California to collaborate on climate action, technology, and innovation.
  • China: In addition to joining President Xi of China and business leaders on Wednesday evening, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis met with U.S. Ambassador to China Nick Burns to discuss California’s bilateral relations with China and to strengthen cultural ties.
Image of Lt. Gov. Kounalakis with Ambassador to China

Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis with the Ambassador to China, Nick Burns, at the APEC Summit.

On Thursday, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis joined First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Ambassador Katherine Tai, Acting Secretary Julie Su, and other leaders for a Women’s Economic Empowerment Breakfast and panel discussion. The panel discussed women’s economic empowerment in the APEC region and critical issues such as climate and reproductive health.

Image of Lt. Gov. Kounalakis speaking at a table with First Partner Siebel Newsom and other dignitaries at the APEC Summit.

Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom at the Women’s Economic Empowerment Breakfast.

Later in the evening, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis joined a Welcome Reception for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. To keep with APEC’s theme this year of Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All, the dinner highlighted Japan’s improvements in their seafood sector in leveraging cutting-edge technology for a more sustainable future.

Image of Lt. Governor Kounalakis standing with a chef and other dignitaries at a reception.

Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis, and others at the Welcome Reception for Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida.


Through a series of high-profile events and bilateral meetings with dignitaries, APEC highlighted California’s commitment to sustainability, economic cooperation, and its influential role on the world stage. From our incredible diversity, our values of equal rights, the strength of our economy, and our leadership on climate action, APEC was an incredible opportunity that will have long-lasting impacts on the city of San Francisco, the Golden State, and our great nation.

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