Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

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Ⅰ. Establishment Background
Ⅱ. Member Economies
Ⅲ. Major Achievements
Ⅳ. APEC's Spirit
Ⅴ. Objectives
Ⅵ. Organization Structure

Ⅰ. Establishment Background

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was established in 1989 as an informal ministerial-level dialogue group with twelve members. Today APEC has 21 member economies spread out over four continents.

The idea of APEC was firstly publicly broached by former Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Bob Hawke, during a speech in Seoul, Korea in January 1989. After consultations with relevant countries, the first ministerial meeting was held in Canberra, Australia from 6 to 7 November 1989. Foreign Ministers and Economic Ministers from Australia, the United States of America, Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand attended the meeting. Thus Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was set up.

People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, China and Chinese Taipei joined in 1991. Mexico and Papua New Guinea followed in 1993. Chile acceded in 1994. And in 1998, Peru, Russia and Viet Nam joined, taking the full membership to 21.

Its origins lay with the desire of the founding members to promote economic growth, foster and strengthen trade, and improve living standards. APEC started with a modest program of sectoral and trade negotiations. From the beginning, APEC has seen itself not as a grouping of countries, but of economies, the term emphasizing that the organization discusses economics, not politics. It was also established as a loose consultative forum, with no organization structure or a large bureaucracy supporting it. Indeed, even today, the APEC Secretariat, which is located in Singapore, includes only 23 diplomats seconded from APEC member economies in addition to 20 locally hired staff.

Between 1989 and 1992, APEC met as an informal senior official and ministerial level dialogue. It was in 1993 that an annual meeting of APEC Leaders became a regular feature of APEC. Only one year after this first meeting, which was held in the U.S., APEC Leaders took another historic step at their meeting in Bogor, Indonesia. At this meeting, the Leaders declared a bold goal of creating the world's largest area of free trade and investment by 2020, known as the "Bogor Goals."

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Ⅱ. Member Economies

APEC comprises 21 member economies, namely, People's Republic of China, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, China (HKC), Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Russia, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States and Viet Nam. APEC also has three observers. They are the ASEAN Secretariat, Pacific Island Forum and Pacific Economic Cooperation Council.

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Ⅲ. Major Achievements

Since the establishment of APEC, its achievements reflect in three main pillars of activity including Trade and Investment Liberalization, Business Facilitation and Economic and Technical Cooperation.

1. Trade and Investment Liberalization
In November 1994, the meeting at Bogor adopBogor Declaration, an important achievement indicating the libralization of trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, has been passed at the Bogor Meeting. In this delcaration, it has put forward a timetable to achieve its Bogor Goal of free trade in the APEC region by the year 2020, namely, developed economies would achieve free trade by the year 2010 and developing economies would follow in 2020. At this meeting, it also issued a document "Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Non-binding Investment Principles."

In November 1995, the economic leaders approved a Declaration for Action (Osaka Declaration) and adopted the Osaka Action Agenda as a framework to achieve the commitments of the Bogor Declaration. The documents firmly established the "two wheels" of the APEC activities: trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and economic and technical cooperation (Ecotech). The Osaka Action Agenda also provided individual action plans and collective action plans with 9 general principles and 15 specific areas for the implementation of the Bogor Goals.

In 1996, the APEC member economies submitted the unilateral action plans for implementation of trade and investment libralization at the APEC senior official meeting in Cubic Bay, Philippines, listing the measures and general plans before 2000, 2010 and 2020. In November, these plans have been formally announced and come into effect next year.

2. Business Facilitation
Basically, business facilitation is aimed at making doing business in the region easier and less costly. Although work in this area continues on a broad front, APEC has already made substantial progress in many areas including standards, customs, electronic commerce, business travel, telecommunications, energy, fisheries, and government procurement. Some examples will be discussed separately, to better highlight how business can best take advantage of the progress in these areas.

3. Economic and Technical Cooperation
In November 1995, the economic leaders approved a Declaration for Action (Osaka Declaration) and adopted the Osaka Action Agenda as a framework to achieve the commitments of the Bogor Declaration. The agenda was divided into two parts: trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and economic and technical cooperation (Ecotech), which were of equal importance.

The Manila Meeting in 1996 is an important chapter in the history of APEC economic and technological cooperation. At this meeting, APEC leaders approved the APEC Framework for Strengthening Economic Cooperation and Development. It has established the objectives, guiding principles, characteristics, theme and priority areas for APEC economic and technological cooperation, laid the cornerstone for the Asia-Pacific economic and technological cooperation in the new century.

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Ⅳ. APEC's Spirit

APEC's spirit of community was raised in the Seattle Economic Leaders' Meeting Declaration in 1993 to create stability and prosperity for the people of this region and establish the Asia-Pacific business community. In this community, all member economies should deepen the spirit of openness and partnership in order to make contributions to the world economy and give support to the open international trading system.

During the discussion of the fundamental principles of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the following seven words are appeared with high frequency. They are open, gradual, voluntary, consultation, development, mutual benefit and common interests, which reflect the spirit of APEC.

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Ⅴ. Objectives

In November 1991, the 3rd APEC Ministerial Meeting held in Seoul, South Korea issued the Seoul APEC Declaration that set the objectives of "Interdependence and common interests, to develop and strengthen the open multilateral trading system and reduce regional barriers to trade".

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Ⅵ. Organization Structure

APEC's organization is at 5 levels:

1. Economic Leaders' Meeting (ELM)
Since its establishment in 1989, APEC has held annual ministerial meetings in the first three years. On November 20, 1993, the first APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting was held in Blake Island, eight sea miles away from downtown Seattle. It was the first highest-level meeting since the founding of the APEC and was attended by the heads of government from the majority of member economies. The Economic Leaders' Meeting is held at the latter part of every year since 1993.

2. Ministerial Meeting

APEC Ministerial Meeting is consisting of the ministerial meeting and sectoral ministerial meeting. The meeting is usually held before the Economic Leaders' Meeting. Foreign Ministers from members except Hong Kong, China and Chinese Taipei, and their Economic Ministers will participate in the meeting. It started in November 1989 and will be held before the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. The Sectoral Ministerial Meetings are held regularly covering areas such as small and medium enterprises, tourism, environmental protection, education, science and technology, communications and other issues.

3. Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM)
Senior Officials’ Meetings, chaired by the host economy, are held three to four times a year as tune-ups for the APEC ministerial meeting and economic leaders' meeting. At the meetings, designated senior officials of the 21 APEC member economies prepare reports to be submitted to the foreign and trade ministers and implement their decisions. They also oversee and coordinate the budgets and working agendas of each APEC forum. SOM's main tasks are carrying out the decisions of the Ministerial Meeting and the Economic Leaders' Meeting and making necessary preparations for next Ministerial Meeting and the Economic Leaders' Meeting. In addition, there're 10 Working Groups and 3 policy level and expert groups to carry out specific activities and cooperation. Therefore, it was known as the "actual work department " for the Senior Officials Meeting. It is the core mechanism for APEC, which is responsible to the Ministerial Meeting and for the overall coordination between APEC committees and working groups.

4. Committees and Working Groups
SOM has four committees and 11 working groups. The four committees are consisting of Committee on Trade and Investment, Economic Committee, SOM Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation and Budget and Management Committee. The 11 working groups include Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group, Energy Working Group, Fisheries Working Group, Health Working Group, Human Resources Development Working Group, Industrial Science and Technology Working Group, Marine Resource Conservation Working Group, Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group, Telecommunications and Information Working Group, Tourism Working Group, Transportation Working Group and SOM Special Task Groups.

  • Committee on Trade and Investment
    Trade and investment liberalization and facilitation are the cornerstones of APEC's identity and activities, and the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) is the coordinating body for all of APEC's work in these areas. The CTI provides a forum for APEC's 21 Member Economies to deliberate trade and policy issues. It works to reduce impediments to business activity in the areas outlined by the Osaka Action Agenda, with the objective of helping APEC economies achieve the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment.

    The CTI oversees:
    Nine sub-groups - Business Mobility Group, Electronic Commerce Steering Group, Government Procurement Experts' Group, Group on Services, Intellectual Property Experts Group, Investment Experts Group, Market Access Group, Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures, Sub-Committee on Standards Conformance; and Three industry dialogues - Automotive Dialogue, Chemical Dialogue and Life Sciences Innovation Forum
  • Economic Committee
    Its main duty is to study, analyze the economic issues and development trends in the APEC region and write specila reports. Its publication is "APEC Economic Outlook", an annual publication of the Economic Committee since 1995, reviews recent economic developments in the region, the economic performance and prospects of APEC members.
  • SOM Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation
    The SOM Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation assists APEC Senior Officials in coordinating and managing APEC's economic and technical cooperation agenda, as well as identifying initiatives for cooperative action by member economies.
  • Budget and Management Committee
    Budget and Management Committee (BMC) advises the Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) on budgetary, administrative and managerial issues. Its key responsibility is to prepare the budget for APEC and recommend the approval of projects. The BMC also monitors and evaluates project management aspects of the operations of Committees and Working Groups and makes recommendations to Senior Official Meetings (SOM) for improved efficiency and effectiveness.

5. APEC Bureau
The APEC Bureau was set up in Singapore on January 12, 1993. Under the guidance of the Senior Officials' Meeting, it is responsible for day-to-day work including the administrative, financial and working group activities and also providing support and services for APEC activities at all levels.

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