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"APEC" redirects here. For other uses, see APEC (disambiguation).
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
Logo of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
APEC member economies shown in green.
Type Economic forum
 -  APEC Host Economy 2013 Indonesia
 -  Executive Director ....
Establishment 1989

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies[1] that seeks to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region. It was established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional trade blocs in other parts of the world; to fears that highly industrialized Japan (a member of G8) would come to dominate economic activity in the Asia-Pacific region; and to establish new markets for agricultural products and raw materials beyond Europe (where demand had been declining).[2] APEC works to raise living standards and education levels through sustainable economic growth and to foster a sense of community and an appreciation of shared interests among Asia-Pacific countries. APEC includes newly industrialized economies, although the agenda of free trade was a sensitive issue for the developing NIEs at the time APEC founded, and aims to enable ASEAN economies to explore new export market opportunities for natural resources such as natural gas, as well as to seek regional economic integration (industrial integration) by means of foreign direct investment. Members account for approximately 40% of the world's population, approximately 54% of the world's gross domestic product and about 44% of world trade.[3] For APEC Economic Trends Analysis in 2012, see.[4]

An annual APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting is attended by the heads of government of all APEC members except the Republic of China (who is represented by a ministerial-level official under the name Chinese Taipei as economic leader[5]). The location of the meeting rotates annually among the member economies, and until 2011, a famous tradition involved the attending leaders dressing in a national costume of the host member.


File:APEC ABC.ogv In January 1989, Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke called for more effective economic cooperation across the Pacific Rim region. This led to the first meeting of APEC in the Australian capital of Canberra in November, chaired by Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Gareth Evans. Attended by political ministers from twelve countries, the meeting concluded with commitments for future annual meetings in Singapore and Korea.

Countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) opposed the initial proposal, instead proposing the East Asia Economic Caucus which would exclude non-Asian countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This plan was opposed and strongly criticized by Japan and the United States.

The first APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting occurred in 1993 when U.S. President Bill Clinton, after discussions with Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, invited the heads of government from member economies to a summit on Blake Island. He believed it would help bring the stalled Uruguay Round of trade talks back on track. At the meeting, some leaders called for continued reduction of barriers to trade and investment, envisioning a community in the Asia-Pacific region that might promote prosperity through cooperation. The APEC Secretariat, based in Singapore, was established to coordinate the activities of the organization.

During the meeting in 1994 in Bogor, Indonesia, APEC leaders adopted the Bogor Goals that aim for free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialized economies and by 2020 for developing economies. In 1995, APEC established a business advisory body named the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), composed of three business executives from each member economy.

Member economies

APEC currently has 21 members, including most countries with a coastline on the Pacific Ocean. However, the criterion for membership is that the member is a separate economy, rather than a state. As a result, APEC uses the term member economies rather than member countries to refer to its members. One result of this criterion is that membership of the forum includes Taiwan (officially the Republic of China, participating under the name "Chinese Taipei") alongside People's Republic of China (see Cross-Strait relations), as well as Hong Kong, which entered APEC as a British colony but it is now a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. APEC also includes three official observers: ASEAN, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council.[6]

Member economy (name as used in APEC) Date of accession
Australia November 1989
Brunei Darussalam November 1989
Canada November 1989
Indonesia November 1989
Japan November 1989
Republic of Korea November 1989
Malaysia November 1989
New Zealand November 1989
Philippines November 1989
Singapore November 1989
Thailand November 1989
United States November 1989
Chinese Taipei[7] November 1991
Hong Kong, China[8] November 1991
People's Republic of China November 1991
Mexico November 1993
Papua New Guinea November 1993
Chile November 1994
Peru November 1998
Russia November 1998
Vietnam November 1998

Possible enlargement

India has requested membership in APEC, and received initial support from the United States, Japan[9] and Australia. Officials have decided not to allow India to join for various reasons.[10][11] However, the decision was made not to admit more members until 2010. Moreover, India does not border the Pacific Ocean, which all current members do.[12] However, India has been invited to be an observer for the first time in November 2011.[13]

In addition to India, Pakistan,[14] Bangladesh,[14] Sri Lanka,[14] Macau,[14] Mongolia,[14] Laos,[14] Cambodia,[15] Costa Rica,[16] Colombia,[16][17] Panama,[16] and Ecuador,[18] are among a dozen countries seeking membership in APEC. Colombia applied for APEC's membership as early as in 1995, but its bid was halted as the organization stopped accepting new members from 1993 to 1996,[19] and the moratorium was further prolonged to 2007 due to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. Guam has also been actively seeking a separate membership, citing the example of Hong Kong, but the request is opposed by the United States, which currently represents Guam.

APEC's Three Pillars

To meet the Bogor Goals, APEC carries out work in three main areas:

1. Trade and Investment Liberalisation
2. Business Facilitation
3. Economic and Technical Cooperation

APEC and Trade Liberalisation

According to the organization itself, when APEC was established in 1989 average trade barriers in the region stood at 16.9 percent, but had been reduced to 5.5% in 2004.[20]

APEC's Business Facilitation Efforts

APEC has long been at the forefront of reform efforts in the area of business facilitation. Between 2002 and 2006 the costs of business transactions across the region was reduced by 6%, thanks to the APEC Trade Facilitation Action Plan (TFAPI). Between 2007 and 2010, APEC hopes to achieve an additional 5% reduction in business transaction costs. To this end, a new

Proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific

APEC first formally started discussing the concept of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific at its summit in 2006 in Hanoi. However, the proposal for such an area has been around since at least 1966 and Japanese economist Kiyoshi Kojima (ja)'s proposal for a Pacific Free Trade agreement proposal. While it gained little traction, the idea led to the formation of Pacific Trade and Development Conference and then the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council in 1980 and then APEC in 1989.

In more recent times, economist C. Fred Bergsten has been the foremost advocate of a Free Trade Agreement of Asia-Pacific. His ideas convinced the APEC Business Advisory Council to support this concept.

The proposal for a FTAAP arose due to the lack of progress in the Doha round of World Trade Organization negotiations, and as a way to overcome the "spaghetti bowl" effect created by overlapping and conflicting elements of the umpteen free trade agreements—there are approximately 60 free trade agreements, with an additional 117 in the process of negotiation in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.[23][23][24][25][25] The FTAAP is more ambitious in scope than the Doha round, which limits itself to reducing trade restrictions. The FTAAP would create a free trade zone that would considerably expand commerce and economic growth in the region.[23][25] The economic expansion and growth in trade could exceed the expectations of other regional free trade areas such as the ASEAN Plus Three (ASEAN + China, Japan, and South Korea).[26] Some criticisms include that the diversion of trade within APEC members would create trade imbalances, market conflicts and complications with nations of other regions.[25] The development of the FTAAP is expected to take many years, involving essential studies, evaluations and negotiations between member economies.[23] It is also affected by the absence of political will and popular agitations and lobbying against free trade in domestic politics.[23][27]

APEC Study Center Consortium

In 1993, APEC Leaders decided to establish a network of APEC Study Centres among universities and research institutions in member economies.[28]

Notable centers include:

APEC Business Advisory Council

The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) was created by the APEC Economic Leaders in November 1995 with the aim of providing advice to the APEC Economic Leaders on ways to achieve the Bogor Goals and other specific business sector priorities, and to provide the business perspective on specific areas of cooperation.

Each economy nominates up to three members from the private sector to ABAC. These business leaders represent a wide range of industry sectors. ABAC provides an annual report to APEC Economic Leaders containing recommendations to improve the business and investment environment in the Asia-Pacific region, and outlining business views about priority regional issues. ABAC is also the only non-governmental organisation that is on the official agenda of the APEC Economic Leader’s Meeting.

Annual APEC Economic Leaders' Meetings

Since its formation in 1989, APEC has held annual meetings with representatives from all member economies. The first four annual meetings were attended by ministerial-level officials. Beginning in 1993, the annual meetings are named APEC Economic Leaders' Meetings and are attended by the heads of government from all member economies except Taiwan, which is represented by a ministerial-level official. The annual Leaders' Meetings are not called summits.

Meeting developments

In 1997, the APEC meeting was held in Vancouver. Controversy arose after officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police used pepper spray against protesters. The protesters objected to the presence of autocratic leaders such as Indonesian president Suharto.[37][38][39][40][41][42]

At the 2001 Leaders' Meeting in Shanghai, APEC leaders pushed for a new round of trade negotiations and support for a program of trade capacity-building assistance, leading to the launch of the Doha Development Agenda a few weeks later. The meeting also endorsed the Shanghai Accord proposed by the United States, emphasising the implementation of open markets, structural reform, and capacity building. As part of the accord, the meeting committed to develop and implement APEC transparency standards, reduce trade transaction costs in the Asia-Pacific region by 5 percent over 5 years, and pursue trade liberalization policies relating to information technology goods and services.

In 2003, Jemaah Islamiah leader Riduan Isamuddin had planned to attack the APEC Leaders Meeting to be held in Bangkok in October. He was captured in the city of Ayutthaya, Thailand by Thai police on August 11, 2003, before he could finish planning the attack. Chile became the first South American nation to host the Leaders' Meeting in 2004. The agenda of that year was focused on terrorism and commerce, small and medium enterprise development, and contemplation of free trade agreements and regional trade agreements.

The 2005 Leaders' Meeting was held in Busan, South Korea. The meeting focused on the Doha round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, leading up to the WTO Ministerial Conference of 2005 held in Hong Kong in December. Weeks earlier, trade negotiations in Paris were held between several WTO members, including the United States and the European Union, centered on reducing agricultural trade barriers. APEC leaders at the summit urged the European Union to agree to reducing farm subsidies. Peaceful protests against APEC were staged in Busan, but the meeting schedule was not affected.

At the Leaders' Meeting held on November 19, 2006 in Hanoi, APEC leaders called for a new start to global free-trade negotiations while condemning terrorism and other threats to security. APEC also criticised North Korea for conducting a nuclear test and a missile test launch that year, urging the country to take "concrete and effective" steps toward nuclear disarmament. Concerns about nuclear proliferation in the region was discussed in addition to economic topics. The United States and Russia signed an agreement as part of Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization.

The APEC Australia 2007 Leaders' Meeting was held in Sydney from 2–9 September 2007. The political leaders agreed to an "aspirational goal" of a 25% reduction of energy intensity correlative with economic development.[43] Extreme security measures including airborne sharpshooters and extensive steel-and-concrete barricades were deployed against anticipated protesters and potential terrorists. However, protest activities were peaceful and the security envelope was penetrated with ease by a spoof diplomatic motorcade manned by members of the Australian television program The Chaser, one of whom was dressed to resemble the Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The APEC USA 2011 Leaders' Meeting was held on Honolulu, Hawaii 8–13 November 2011.[44]

APEC Leaders' Family Photo

At the end of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, the leaders in attendance gather for what is officially known as the APEC Leaders' Family Photo. A long-standing tradition for this photo involved the attending leaders dressing in a costume that reflects the culture of the host member. The tradition dates back to the first such meeting in 1993 when then-U.S. President Bill Clinton outfitted the leaders in leather bombardier jackets. However, at the 2010 meeting, Japan opted to have the leaders dress in smart casual rather than the traditional kimono.[45] Similarly, when Honolulu was selected in 2009 as the site for the 2011 APEC meeting, U.S. President Barack Obama joked that he looked forward to seeing the leaders dressed in "flowered shirts and grass skirts". However, after viewing previous photos, and concerned that having the leaders dress in aloha shirts might give the wrong impression during a period of economic austerity, Obama decided that it might be time to end the tradition. Leaders were given a specially designed aloha shirt as a gift but were not required to wear it for the photo.[46]

Meeting locations

The location of the meeting is rotated annually among the members.

Annual meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
Date Host member Location Photo op fashion Photo Web site
1st November 6–7, 1989 Australia Canberra
2nd July 29–31, 1990 Singapore Singapore
3rd November 12–14, 1991 Korea Seoul Hanbok
4th September 10–11, 1992 Thailand Bangkok
5th November 19–20, 1993 United States Seattle Bombardier Jackets
6th November 15, 1994 Indonesia Bogor Batik Shirts designed by Iwan Tirta[47]
7th November 19, 1995 Japan Osaka No costume
8th November 25, 1996 Philippines Manila and Subic Barong Shirts [48]
9th November 24–25, 1997 Canada Vancouver Leather Jackets [49]
10th November 17–18, 1998 Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Batik Shirts [50]
11th September 12–13, 1999 New Zealand Auckland Sailing Jackets [51]
12th November 15–16, 2000 Brunei Darrusalam Bandar Seri Begawan Kain Tenunan Shirts [6]
13th October 20–21, 2001 People's Republic of China Shanghai Tangzhuang
14th October 26–27, 2002 Mexico Los Cabos Guayabera Shirts (M); Huipíles (F)
15th October 20–21, 2003 Thailand Bangkok Brocade Shirts (M); Brocade Shawls (F)
16th November 20–21, 2004 Chile Santiago Chamantos [7]
17th November 18–19, 2005 Korea Busan Hanboks
18th November 18–19, 2006 Viet Nam Hanoi Áo dài [8]
19th September 8–9, 2007 Australia Sydney Drizabones and Akubra Hats [9]
20th November 22–23, 2008 Peru Lima Ponchos [10]
21st November 14–15, 2009 Singapore Singapore Peranakan-Inspired Designer Shirts [11]
22nd November 13–14, 2010 Japan Yokohama Smart casual[45] [52]
23rd November 12–13, 2011 United States Honolulu No costume
(per request by Barack Obama)[46]
Error creating thumbnail: File seems to be missing:
24th September 9–10, 2012 Russian Federation Vladivostok No costume [13]
25th October 5–7, 2013 Indonesia Bali Endek Bali Shirts
Error creating thumbnail: Invalid thumbnail parameters or image file with more than 12.5 million pixels
26th November 2014 People's Republic of China Beijing
27th November 2015 Philippines Manila
28th November 2016 Peru Lima
29th 2017 Vietnam Hanoi


APEC has been criticized for promoting free trade agreements that would trammel national and local laws, which regulate and ensure labor rights, environmental protection and safe and affordable access to medicine.[53] According to the organization, it is "the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region" established to "further enhance economic growth and prosperity for the region and to strengthen the Asia-Pacific community".[54] However, whether it has accomplished anything constructive remains debatable, especially from the viewpoints of European countries that cannot take part in APEC[55] and Pacific Island nations that cannot participate but will suffer its consequences.

See also

Other organizations of coastal states
New Zealand issues
  • Contents of the United States diplomatic cables leak (New Zealand)


Further reading

External links

  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
  • Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports regarding APEC
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