The Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a cooperative effort of 21 countries with a common goal of improving free trade in this region. First established in 1989 with 12 member countries in Canberra, Australia, APEC has made great strides in facilitating and improving trade among its member countries. In the first decade after its creation, the economies of the member nations accounted for 70% of global growth economically. Its members are, alphabetically, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, China; Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Republic of the Philippines, The Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States of America, and Vietnam.
APEC’s 21 members represent 41% of the global population, 49% of international trade and 56% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). There is no treaty to sign, rather APEC functions by consensus and cooperation. It adheres to the “Bogor Goals,” established in 1994 in Bogor, Indonesia. These goals are to have free and open trade and increased foreign investment in member economies by 2010 for developed economies, and 2020 for developing economies.
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APEC works to establish anti-“protectionist” policies in member nations by reducing tariffs and doing away with other free-trade obstructions. By pooling resources, member nations can share information, and increase the wealth for businesses and individuals. APEC benefits citizens of member nations by creating more opportunity in the workplace, less expensive goods and services and increasing the ability to participate in the international market.
There are three main areas APEC focuses on:
Trade and Investment Liberalization: In this area, APEC works to reduce tariffs and remove other obstructions to free trade.
Business Facilitation: In this area, the goal is to facilitate business interactions between member nations by reducing the cost of doing business, sharing trade information and improving the relationships of importers and exporters.
Economic and Technical Cooperation (ECOTECH):This program includes opportunities for member nations to improve training and education in international trade.
APEC has met every year since 1993, and in addition to its goals, discusses evolving issues such as women in APEC, terrorism, transparency standards, corruption and pandemics that potentially affect trade. Every year, one member country plays host to the meeting. APEC is funded by a relatively small annual contribution from each member country, totaling approximately $3.38 million US Dollars (USD) per year. These funds pay for APEC programs as well as a small Secretariat located in Singapore. Leadership in the Secretariat rotates, depending on who is hosting the meeting that year— the Executive Director is from the host country that year, and the Deputy Executive Director is from next year’s host country.