Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

What is Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), is an economic group of 21 members, formed in 1989, with the main objective of promoting free trade and sustainable development in the economies of the Pacific. The creation of PACE was mainly a response to the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific economies. In addition, the proliferation of regional economic blocs, such as the European Union (EU) and the now-gone North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA), encouraged its formation.

In the years following its launch, APEC has witnessed many marquis achievements. They are essential for reducing tariffs, improving customs efficiency and bridging the gap between developing and developed countries. APEC has also fought climate change, dismantled terrorist networks, increased transparency and stimulated economic integration. In addition, the group raised living standards and education levels, and fostered a greater sense of community among the Asia-Pacific countries, nurturing common interests.

APEC finances around a hundred projects per year, with around USD 15.4 million available in 2020.

Nations including APEC

The founding members of APEC were Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the United States. Since its launch, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Peru, Russia and Vietnam have joined its ranks. APEC designates its members as economies rather than states because of the disputed status of Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) refuses to recognize Taiwan because it claims the island as a province under its constitution. Hong Kong functions as semi-autonomous regions of China and not as a sovereign state.

APEC Actions and Objectives

At a historic summit meeting in 1994, APEC announced a lofty goal to establish free trade and investment regimes in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020 for members of developed economies. The group hopes to achieve these same goals for members of its developing economy by 2020.

APEC designates its members as economies rather than states because of the disputed status of Taiwan and Hong Kong.

In 1995, APEC adopted the Osaka Program of Action, a program designed to facilitate trade activities, liberalize trade and investment, and promote economic and technical cooperation. However, progress in these efforts has slowed somewhat, due to the APEC culture of making all decisions by consensus. If certain decisions are not taken unanimously, they are not legally binding by the member governments.

Official observers for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation include the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).

APEC subgroups

APEC engages in multiple micro-causes and has many sub-groups that aim to advance policy and awareness. Here are some examples of these subgroups:

  • Gender: APEC members recognize that the full potential of women’s participation in the economy of the Asia-Pacific region remains untapped. As a result, economic empowerment and the inclusion of women are key items on the agenda. It is estimated that 600 million women are currently in the region’s workforce.
  • Intellectual property rights: In 1996, the APEC Trade and Investment Committee (CTI) created a meeting on intellectual property rights (IPR-GT). This initiative aims to ensure, by legislation, adequate protection of intellectual property rights in the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, administrative and law enforcement mechanisms will assist this effort. AOEC bases its principles on those of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and other agreements.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Most APEC economies are found along the Pacific Ring of Fire, where strong tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions pose constant threats. The region is also vulnerable to tropical cyclone formations, including annual occurrences of Category 5 cyclones or super typhoons.

Key points to remember

  • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a 21-member economic forum created in 1989.
  • APEC is made up of countries, including the United States, that promote free trade and sustainable development in the economies of the Pacific.
  • APEC engages in multiple micro-causes, such as intellectual property rights and emergency preparedness, and has many sub-groups that aim to advance policy and awareness.
  • APEC has played a fundamental role in reducing tariffs, improving customs efficiency and reducing the gap between developing and developed economies.

Example from the real world

In keeping with its tradition of educational discussion, in 2019, APEC sponsors a varied list of forums in Chile. These seminars, organized by various member economies, can be viewed and saved in the APEC project database.

  • Best case studies on coal-fired power plants and cogeneration plants
  • Regional workshop on the efficiency of coal-fired power plants
  • Digital Government Workshop
  • Integrity policies and corruption prevention mechanisms in APEC economies
  • Collaboration with the regulatory agency for electric toy products.

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