Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
APEC member economies shown in green
APEC member economies shown in green
Headquarters Singapore
Type Economic forum
21 Pacific member economies
 -  APEC Chair United States
 -  Executive Director Muhamad Noor Yacob
Establishment 1989

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim countries (styled "member economies") that seeks to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional economic blocs (such as the European Union) in other parts of the world, 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. 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.[1]

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



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 South 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

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President George W. Bush at APEC 2006 in Hanoi.

APaC corrently has 79 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 (participating under the name "Chinese Taipei") alongside the People's Republic of China (see Cross-Strait relations), as well as Hong Kong, which is now a Special Administrative Region of China.

Member economy (name as used in APEC) Date of accession
 Australia 1989
 Brunei 1989
 Canada 1989
 Indonesia 1989
 Japan 1989
 Republic of Korea 1989
 Malaysia 1989
 New Zealand 1989
 Philippines 1989
 Singapore 1989
 Thailand 1989
 United States 1989
 Chinese Taipei[2] 1991
 Hong Kong[3] 1991
 People's Republic of China[4] 1991
 Mexico 1993
 Papua New Guinea 1993
 Chile 1994
 Peru 1998
 Russia 1998
 Vietnam 1998

Possible enlargement

India has requested membership in APEC, and received initial support from the United States, Japan[5] and Australia. Officials have decided not to allow India to join for various reasons.[6][7] 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.[8] However, India has been invited to be an observer for the first time in November 2011. [9]

In addition to India, Mongolia, Pakistan, Laos, Bangladesh, Costa Rica,[10] Colombia,[10][11] Panama[10] and Ecuador,[12] are among a dozen countries seeking membership in APEC by 2008. 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,[13] and the moratorium was further prolonged to 2007 due to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador had hoped to become members by 2010.[citation needed] 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.[14]

APEC's Business Facilitation Efforts

APEC has long been at the forefront of reform efforts in the area of business facilitation. Between 2002-2006 the costs of business transactions across the region was reduced by 6 percent, thanks to the APEC Trade Facilitation Action Plan (TFAPI). Between 2007 and 2010, APEC hopes to achieve an additional 5 percent reduction in business transaction costs. To this end, a new Trade Facilitation Action Plan has been endorsed. According to a 2008 research brief published by the World Bank as part of its Trade Costs and Facilitation Project, increasing transparency in the region's trading system is critical if APEC is to meet its Bogor Goal targets.[15] The APEC Business Travel Card, a travel document for visa-free business travel within the region is one of the concrete measures to facilitate business. In May 2010 Russia joined the scheme, thus completing the circle.[16]

Proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific

APEC is considering the prospects and options for a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) which would include all member economies of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Since 2006, the APEC Business Advisory Council, promoting the theory that a free trade area has the best chance of converging the member nations and ensuring stable economic growth under free trade, has lobbied for the creation of a high-level task force to study and develop a plan for a free trade area. 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 free trade agreements between members – there are as many as 60 free trade agreements and 117 being negotiated in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.[17][17][18][19][19] 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.[17][19] 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).[20] Some criticisms include that the diversion of trade within APEC members would create trade imbalances, market conflicts and complications with nations of other regions.[19] The development of the FTAAP is expected to take many years, involving essential studies, evaluations and negotiations between member economies.[17] It is also affected by the absence of political will and popular agitations and lobbying against free trade in domestic politics.[17]

APEC Study Center Consortium

In 1993, APEC Leaders decided to establish a network of APEC Study Centres (ASCs) amongst universities and research institutions in APEC member economies.[21]

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. [30][31][32][33][34][35]

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.[citation needed] 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.[36] 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 from 8-13 November 2011. [37]

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.[38] 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 an specially designed aloha shirt as a gift but were not required to wear it for the photo.[39]

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 South Korea Republic of Korea Seoul
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[40]
7th November 19, 1995  Japan Osaka Business Suits
8th November 25, 1996  Philippines Manila and Subic Barong Shirts [41]
9th November 24–25, 1997  Canada Vancouver Leather Jackets [42]
10th November 17–18, 1998  Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Batik Shirts [43]
11th September 12–13, 1999  New Zealand Auckland Sailing Jackets [44]
12th November 15–16, 2000 Brunei Brunei Darussalam Bandar Seri Begawan Kain Tenunan Shirts Vladimir Putin at APEC Summit in Brunei 15-16 November-9.jpg [7]
13th October 20–21, 2001  People's Republic of China Shanghai Tangzhuang Vladimir Putin at APEC Summit in China 19-21 October 2001-14.jpg
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) Vladimir Putin at APEC Summit in Thailand 19-21 October 2003-16.jpg
16th November 20–21, 2004  Chile Santiago Chamantos Vladimir Putin at APEC Summit in Chile 20-21 November 2004-3.jpg [8]
17th November 18–19, 2005  Republic of Korea Busan Hanboks Vladimir Putin at APEC Summit in South Korea 18-19 November 2005-8.jpg
18th November 18–19, 2006  Vietnam Hanoi Áo dài Vladimir Putin at APEC Summit in Vietnam 18-19 November 2006-11.jpg [9]
19th September 8–9, 2007  Australia Sydney Drizabones and Akubra Hats Vladimir Putin at APEC Summit in Australia 7-9 September 2007-3.jpg [10]
20th November 22–23, 2008  Peru Lima Ponchos Dmitry Medvedev at APEC Summit in Peru 22-23 November 2008-2.jpg [11]
21st November 14–15, 2009  Singapore Singapore Peranakan-Inspired Designer Shirts APEC Singapore Summit 2009.jpg [12]
22nd November 13–14, 2010  Japan Yokohama Smart casual[38] [45]
23rd November 12–13, 2011  United States Honolulu Business suits[39] [13]
24th November 2012  Russia Vladivostok [14]
25th November 2013  Indonesia Manado/Bali


APEC has been criticized for failing to clearly define itself or serve a useful purpose. 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."[46] However, whether it has accomplished anything constructive remains debatable.[47]

See also

Other organizations of coastal states:


  1. ^ APEC Secretariat website[dead link]
  2. ^ Due to the complexities of the relations between it and the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC or Taiwan) is not represented under its official name "Republic of China" or as "Taiwan". Instead, it participates in APEC under the name "Chinese Taipei". The President of the Republic of China does not attend the annual APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in person. Instead, it is represented usually by a ministerial-level official responsible for economic affairs or someone designated by the president. See List of Chinese Taipei Representatives to APEC.
  3. ^ Hong Kong joined APEC in 1991 during British administration with the name "Hong Kong Hong Kong." In 1997, Hong Kong became a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China and took the name "Hong Kong, China."
  4. ^ The People's Republic of China participates in APEC as representative of the economy of mainland China only, since Hong Kong and Macau are considered separate economies and Taiwan is represented by the Republic of China under the name "Chinese Taipei".
  5. ^ 5 Minutes 10 Minutes. "APEC 'too busy' for free trade deal, says Canberra".,20867,21046591-2702,00.html. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  6. ^ "India's membership issue". 2007-01-11. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  7. ^ 5 Minutes 10 Minutes. "Extend a hand to an absent friend".,25197,22356188-7583,00.html. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  8. ^ "AFP: West worried India would tip APEC power balance: official". 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ a b c Leff, Alex (2011-06-22). "Costa Rica Inches Toward Coveted APEC Membership". Americas Quarterly. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  11. ^ "Peru, Colombia seek closer Central America, APEC trade ties –". 2006-08-29. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  12. ^ (2004-10-08). "People's Daily Online – Ecuador seeks APEC accession in 2007". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  13. ^ "People's Daily Online – Colombia seeks APEC membership in 2007: FM". 2006-09-06. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  14. ^ A Mid-Term Stocktake of the Bogor Goals, APEC 2005
  15. ^ "Transparency Reform Could Raise Trade by $148 Billion in APEC" John S. Wilson & Benjamin Taylor; Trade Facilitation Reform Research Brief, The World Bank. 2008.
  16. ^ Russia joins the APEC Business Travel Card Scheme[dead link]
  17. ^ a b c d e September 2007 — (2011-09-13). "FTAAP". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  18. ^ APEC to consider free trade area[dead link]
  19. ^ a b c d "Plan B for World Trade". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  20. ^ Policy Briefs in International Economics (PDF)
  21. ^ APEC Study Center Contortium[dead link]
  22. ^ "Australian APEC Study Centre". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  23. ^ "Berkeley APEC Study Center". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  24. ^ "Chinese Taipei APEC Study Center". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  25. ^ "HKU APEC Study Center". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  26. ^ "Kobe University APEC Study Center". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  27. ^ APEC Study Center of Nankai University
  28. ^ "The Canadian APEC Study Centre, The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  29. ^ "ASC UI". ASC UI. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  30. ^ Pue, W. Wesley (2000). Pepper in our Eyes: the APEC Affair. Vancouver, Canada: UBC Press. ISBN 0-7748-0779-2. 
  31. ^ Wallace, Bruce (September 21, 1998). "APEC Protest Controversy". Maclean's via The Canadian Encyclopedia (Historica Foundation of Canada). Retrieved 2006-09-06. 
  32. ^ Nuttall-Smith, Chris (November 27, 1997). "APEC summit gets nasty at UBC". Varsity News (Varsity Publications, Inc.). Archived from the original on 2006-10-13. Retrieved 2006-09-06. 
  33. ^ Schmidt, Sarah (January 6, 1998). "Student protesters fight back for civil rights". Varsity News (Varsity Publications, Inc.). Archived from the original on 2006-10-13. Retrieved 2006-09-06. 
  34. ^ "Civil rights group denounces attack on UBC students' APEC protests" (Press release). British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA). November 23, 1997. Retrieved 2006-09-06. 
  35. ^ "Student member of BCCLA executive arrested!" (Press release). British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA). November 25, 1997. Retrieved 2006-09-06. 
  36. ^ "Apec supports nuclear, agrees climate targets". World Nuclear News. 2007-09-10. Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  37. ^ "Apec Honolulu Schedule".  retrieved date, 11/9/2011
  38. ^ a b "No kimonos for APEC leaders in Japan". Reuters. 2010-11-11. Retrieved 2010-11-12. 
  39. ^ a b "No aloha for Hawaiian shirts at APEC family photo". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. 2011-11-13. Retrieved 2011-11-13. 
  40. ^ Emond, Bruce (2010-08-01). "Iwan Tirta, a man of many talents". Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2010-08-18. 
  41. ^ [2][dead link]
  42. ^ [3][dead link]
  43. ^ [4][dead link]
  44. ^ [5][dead link]
  45. ^ [6][dead link]
  46. ^ About APEC – Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation[dead link]
  47. ^ "APEC—a pretty empty chatter". The Economist. September 12, 2007. 

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