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Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
Member economies of APEC
Headquarters  Singapore
TypeEconomic meeting
• Chairperson
Pres. Dina Boluarte
• Executive Director
Rebecca Fatima Santa Maria
Establishment1989; 35 years ago (1989)

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC /ˈpɛk/ AY-pek [1]) is an inter-governmental forum for 21 member economies in the Pacific Rim that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region. [2] Following the success of ASEAN's series of post-ministerial conferences launched in the mid-1980s, [3] APEC started in 1989, [4] in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional trade blocs in other parts of the world; it aimed to establish new markets for agricultural products and raw materials beyond Europe. [5] Headquartered in Singapore, [6] APEC is recognized as one of the highest-level multilateral blocs and oldest forums in the Asia-Pacific region, [7] and exerts significant global influence. [8] [9] [10] [11]

The heads of government of all APEC members except Taiwan (which is represented by a ministerial-level official as economic leader) [12] attend an annual APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. The location of the meeting rotates annually among the member economies, and a famous tradition, followed for most (but not all) summits, involves the attending leaders dressing in a national costume of the host country. APEC has three official observers: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretariat, the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. [13] APEC's Host Economy of the Year is considered to be invited in the first place for geographical representation to attend G20 meetings following G20 guidelines. [14] [15]


ABC news report of the first APEC meeting in Canberra, November 1989, featuring delegates watching the Melbourne Cup.

The initial inspiration for APEC came when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)'s series of post-ministerial conferences, launched in the mid-1980s, had demonstrated the feasibility and value of regular conferences among ministerial-level representatives of both developed and developing economies. By 1986, the post-ministerial conferences had expanded to embrace 12 members (the then six members of ASEAN and its six dialogue partners). The developments led Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke to believe in the necessity of region-wide co-operation on economic matters. In January 1989, Bob Hawke called for more effective economic co-operation 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 ministers from twelve countries, the meeting concluded with commitments to hold future annual meetings in Singapore and South Korea. Ten months later, representatives of 12 Asia-Pacific economies met in Canberra, Australia, to establish APEC. The APEC Secretariat, based in Singapore, was established to co-ordinate the activities of the organisation. [4] [5]

During the 1994 meeting in Bogor, Indonesia, APEC leaders adopted the Bogor Goals, which aimed for free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialised economies and by 2020 for developing economies. During the November 1995 Ministerial Meeting in Osaka, Japan, a business advisory body named the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) composed of three business executives from each member-country was agreed to be established in 1996. [16] [17]

In April 2001, APEC, in collaboration with five other international organisations ( Eurostat, International Energy Agency, Organización Latinoamericana de Energía (OLADE) [ es], Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and the United Nations Statistics Division) launched the Joint Oil Data Exercise, which in 2005 became the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (JODI).

Meeting locations

The location of the annual meeting rotates among the members.

Year # Dates Country City Host Leader
1989 1st 6–7 November   Australia Canberra Prime Minister Bob Hawke
1990 2nd 29–31 July   Singapore Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew
1991 3rd 12–14 November   South Korea Seoul President Roh Tae-woo
1992 4th 10–11 September   Thailand Bangkok Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun
1993 1st 19–20 November   United States Blake Island President Bill Clinton
1994 2nd 15–16 November   Indonesia Bogor President Suharto
1995 3rd 18–19 November   Japan Osaka Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama
1996 4th 24–25 November   Philippines Subic President Fidel Ramos
1997 5th 24–25 November   Canada Vancouver Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
1998 6th 17–18 November   Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad
1999 7th 12–13 September   New Zealand Auckland Prime Minister Jenny Shipley
2000 8th 15–16 November   Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
2001 9th 20–21 October   China Shanghai President Jiang Zemin
2002 10th 26–27 October   Mexico Los Cabos President Vicente Fox
2003 11th 20–21 October   Thailand Bangkok Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
2004 12th 20–21 November   Chile Santiago President Ricardo Lagos
2005 13th 18–19 November   South Korea Busan President Roh Moo-hyun
2006 14th 18–19 November   Vietnam Hanoi President Nguyễn Minh Triết
2007 15th 8–9 September   Australia Sydney Prime Minister John Howard
2008 16th 22–23 November   Peru Lima President Alan Garcia Perez
2009 17th 14–15 November   Singapore Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
2010 18th 13–14 November   Japan Yokohama Prime Minister Naoto Kan
2011 19th 12–13 November   United States Honolulu President Barack Obama
2012 20th 9–10 September   Russia Vladivostok President Vladimir Putin
2013 21st 5–7 October   Indonesia Bali President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
2014 22nd 10–11 November   China Beijing President Xi Jinping
2015 23rd 18–19 November   Philippines Pasay President Benigno Aquino III
2016 24th 19–20 November   Peru Lima President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
2017 25th 10–11 November   Vietnam Da Nang President Trần Đại Quang
2018 26th 17–18 November   Papua New Guinea Port Moresby Prime Minister Peter O'Neill
2019 27th 16–17 November
  Chile Santiago President Sebastián Piñera
2020 27th 20 November   Malaysia Kuala Lumpur (hosted virtually) [18] Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin
2021 16 July   New Zealand Auckland (hosted virtually) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
28th 12 November [19]
2022 29th 18–19 November   Thailand Bangkok Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha [20]
2023 30th 15–17 November [21]   United States San Francisco President Joe Biden [22]
2024 31st TBA   Peru Cusco President Dina Boluarte [20]
2025 32nd TBA   South Korea Gyeongju President Yoon Suk-yeol
2026 33rd TBA TBA TBA TBA
2027 34th TBA   Vietnam [23] TBA TBA

Member economies

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

Currently, APEC has 21 members. The criterion for membership, however, is that each member must be an independent economic entity, rather than a sovereign 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. [2]

Member economy(s) Name as used in APEC Date of accession GDP (Nominal) in 2024
(Millions of US$) [24]
  Australia Australia November 1989 1,790,348
  Brunei Brunei Darussalam November 1989 15,510
  Canada Canada November 1989 2,242,182
  Indonesia Indonesia November 1989 1,475,690
  Japan Japan November 1989 4,110,452
  South Korea Republic of Korea November 1989 1,760,947
  Malaysia Malaysia November 1989 445,519
  New Zealand New Zealand November 1989 257,626
  Philippines The Philippines November 1989 471,516
  Singapore Singapore November 1989 525,230
  Thailand Thailand November 1989 548,890
  United States The United States November 1989 28,781,083
  Taiwan Chinese Taipei [a] November 1991 802,958
  Hong Kong Hong Kong, China [b] November 1991 406,775
  China People's Republic of China November 1991 18,532,633
  Mexico Mexico November 1993 2,017,025
  Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea November 1993 31,716
  Chile Chile November 1994 333,760
  Peru Peru November 1998 282,458
  Russia Russia November 1998 2,056,844
  Vietnam Viet Nam November 1998 465,814


Member Leader position Leader ( Leader of the Executive Branch) Finance portfolio Portfolio Minister
  Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese Treasurer Jim Chalmers
  Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Minister of Finance and Economy
Second Minister of Finance and Economy
Hassanal Bolkiah
Amin Liew Abdullah
  Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland
  Chile President Gabriel Boric Minister of Finance Mario Marcel
  China President / General Secretary [c] Xi Jinping Minister of Finance Lan Fo'an
  Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Financial Secretary Paul Chan
  Indonesia President Joko Widodo Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani
  Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida Minister of Finance Shunichi Suzuki
  South Korea President Yoon Suk-yeol Minister of Economy and Finance Choi Sang-mok
  Malaysia Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim Minister of Finance Anwar Ibrahim
  Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador Secretary of Finance and Public Credit Rogelio Ramírez de la O
  New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon Minister of Finance Nicola Willis
  Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape Minister for Finance and Rural Development John Pundari
  Peru President Dina Boluarte Minister of Economy and Finance José Arista
  Philippines President Bongbong Marcos Secretary of Finance Ralph Recto
  Russia President Vladimir Putin Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov
  Singapore Prime Minister Lawrence Wong Minister of Finance Lawrence Wong
  Taiwan Leader / Leader Envoy Lai Ching-te (represented by Morris Chang) [a] Minister of Finance Chuang Tsui-yun
  Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin Minister of Finance Pichai Chunhavajira
  United States President Joe Biden Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen
  Vietnam President [d] Tô Lâm Ministry of Finance Hồ Đức Phớc

Current leaders

Possible enlargement

  Current members
  Announced interest in membership

India has requested membership in APEC, and received initial support from the United States, Japan, [25] Australia and Papua New Guinea. [26] Officials have decided not to allow India to join for various reasons, including the fact that India does not border the Pacific Ocean, which all current members do. [27] However, India was invited to be an observer for the first time in November 2011. [28]

Bangladesh, [29] Pakistan, [29] Sri Lanka, [29] Macau, [29] Mongolia, [29] Laos, [29] Cambodia, [30] Costa Rica, [31] Colombia, [31] [32] Panama, [31] and Ecuador, [33] are among a dozen other economies that have applied for membership in APEC. Colombia applied for APEC's membership as early as in 1995, but its bid was halted as the organisation stopped accepting new members from 1993 to 1996, [34] and the moratorium was further prolonged to 2007 due to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.

Business facilitation

As a regional organization, APEC has always played a leading role in the area of reform initiatives in the area of business facilitation. The APEC Trade Facilitation Action Plan (TFAPI) has contributed to a reduction of 6% in the cost of business transactions across the region between 2002 and 2006. According to APEC's projections, the cost of conducting business transactions will be reduced by another 5% between 2007 and 2010. 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. [35] 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. [36]

Proposed FTAAP

APEC first formally started discussing the concept of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) 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 the wake of the 2006 summit, economist C. Fred Bergsten advocated a Free Trade Agreement of Asia-Pacific, including the United States amongst the proposed parties to any agreement at that time. [37] His ideas convinced the APEC Business Advisory Council to support this concept. Relatedly, ASEAN and existing free trade agreement (FTA) partners negotiated the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), not officially including Russia. [38] The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without China or Russia involved became the US-promoted trade negotiation in the region. At the APEC summit in Beijing in 2014, the three plans were all in discussion. [39] President Obama hosted a TPP meeting at the US Embassy in Beijing in advance of the APEC gathering. [40]

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 "noodle bowl" effect created by overlapping and conflicting elements of the copious free trade agreements – there were approximately 60 free trade agreements in 2007, with an additional 117 in the process of negotiation in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. [41] In 2012, ASEAN+6 countries alone had 339 free trade agreements – many of which were bilateral. [e]

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. [41] [43] 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, South Korea and Japan). [44] Some criticisms include that the diversion of trade within APEC members would create trade imbalances, market conflicts and complications with nations of other regions. [43] The development of the FTAAP is expected to take many years, involving essential studies, evaluations and negotiations between member economies. [41] It is also affected by the absence of political will and popular agitations and lobbying against free trade in domestic politics. [41] [45]

At the 2014 APEC summit in Beijing, APEC leaders agreed to launch "a collective strategic study" on the FTAAP and instruct officials to undertake the study, consult stakeholders and report the result by the end of 2016. [46] APEC Executive Director Alan Bollard revealed in the Elite Talk show that FTAAP will be APEC's big goal out into the future. [47]

The Trans-Pacific Partnership included 12 of the 21 APEC members and had provisions for the accession of other APEC members, five of which expressed interest in membership.

APEC Study Centre Consortium

In 1993, APEC Leaders decided to establish a network of APEC Study Centres (APCs) among universities and research institutions in member economies. The purpose is to foster cooperation among tertiary and research institutes of member economies, thus having better academic collaboration on key regional economic challenges. To encourage independence from the APEC conference, the APCs are funded independently and choose their own research topics. [48]

As of December 2018, there are 70 APCs among the member economies. An annual conference is usually held in the host economy for that year. [48]

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 co-operation. [49] [50]

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. [51]

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. [52]

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. [53] [54] [55] [56] [57] [58]

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 five percent over five years, and pursue trade liberalisation 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 11 August 2003, before he could finish planning the attack. [59]

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 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, centred on reducing agricultural trade barriers. APEC leaders at the summit urged the European Union to agree to reduce farm subsidies. In a continuation of the climate information sharing initiative established by the APEC Climate Network working group, it was decided by the leaders to install the APEC Climate Center in Busan. Peaceful protests against APEC were staged in Busan, but the meeting schedule was not affected.

At the Leaders' Meeting held on 19 November 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. [60] 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 Chile 2019, originally to be held 16–17 November 2019 in Chile, was cancelled due to ongoing protests by sections of its population over inequality, the cost of living and police repression. [61]

The 2023 APEC meeting was notable for a lack of consensuses of group members on their stance over the Russia–Ukraine and Israel–Hamas conflicts as well as consensus for WTO reforms. The meeting between Biden and Xi was also seen as significant in terms of reducing tensions between the US and China. [62]

APEC leaders' group photo

At the end of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, the leaders gather for the official APEC Leaders' Family Photo. A tradition has the leaders dressing to reflect the culture of the host member. The tradition dates to the first such meeting in 1993 when then-U.S. President Bill Clinton insisted on informal attire and gave the leaders leather bomber jackets. At the 2010 meeting, Japan had the leaders dress in smart casual rather than the traditional kimono. [63] 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". 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 instead decided it might be time to end the tradition. Leaders were given a specially designed aloha shirt as a gift but were not expected to wear it for the photo. [64] Leaders in Bali, Indonesia at the 2013 conference wore a batik outfit; in China 2014 Tang suit jackets; in the Philippines 2015 barong tagalogs; in Peru 2016 vicuña wool shawls; in 2017 Vietnamese silk shirts. [65]

APEC Summits


APEC has been criticised for promoting free trade agreements that would impose restrictions on national and local laws, which regulate and ensure labour rights, environmental protection and safe and affordable access to medicine. [66] According to the organisation, 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". [67] The effectiveness and fairness of its role has been questioned, especially from the viewpoints of European countries that cannot take part in APEC [68] and Pacific Island nations that cannot participate but stand to be affected by its decisions.

See also

Other organisations of coastal states


  1. ^ a b c d Due to the complexities of the relations between it and Communist China (officially the People's Republic of China), the Republic of China (ROC or " Taiwan"; retroactively known as Nationalist China) is not represented under its official various names such as the "Republic of China", "Nationalist China" or "Taiwan". Instead, it participates in APEC under the name " Chinese Taipei". The President of the Republic of China cannot attend the annual APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in person. Instead, it is generally represented by a ministerial-level official responsible for economic affairs or someone designated by the president. See List of Chinese Taipei Representatives to APEC.
  2. ^ Hong Kong joined APEC in 1991 during British administration with the name "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."
  3. ^ a b The de jure head of government of China is the Premier, whose current holder is Li Qiang. The President of China is legally a ceremonial office, but the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (de facto leader in one-party communist state) has always held this office since 1993 except for the months of transition, and the current general secretary is Xi Jinping.
  4. ^ a b The de jure head of government of Vietnam is the Prime Minister, whose current holder is Phạm Minh Chính. The President of Vietnam is legally the head of state, but the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (de facto leader in one-party communist state) has held this office from 2018 to 2021, and the current general secretary is Nguyễn Phú Trọng.
  5. ^ "As of January 2012 ASEAN countries have 186 FTAs implemented, signed, under negotiation or under proposal/study, which is substantial progress since… 1992. The ASEAN+6 countries have a total of 339 FTAs, including between ASEAN countries and the '+6' countries." [42]


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Further reading