The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, is a forum to encourage economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. It is composed of 21 “member economies” that make up 55 percent of global gross domestic product and roughly 43 percent of all world trade.
Honolulu hosted APEC’s 2011 meeting. The summit took place Nov. 8 through 13. Delegates from 21 countries — including U.S. President Barack Obama — descended upon Waikiki and Ko Olina for meetings.
APEC was formed in Canberra, Australia in 1989.
The idea was introduced by Bob Hawke, a former Australian Prime Minister, at a speech in Seoul, Korea. APEC was encouraged by expansive integration of Europe in the European Union and as a defensive move to prevent further isolation from European and North American markets.
In its first three years, heads of state from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States met informally. APEC began to meet annually in 1993 when former U.S. President Bill Clinton established the APEC Economic Leader’s Meeting.
Since APEC was formed in 1989, its member economies’ total trade has grown 395 percent and GDP has tripled, allowing APEC to outpace the rest of the world. Average trade barriers in the region in 1989 were at 16.9 percent and by 2004, barriers had declined 70 percent to 5.5 percent. As a result intra-APEC trade between 1989 and 2007 went from $1.7 trillion to $8.8 trillion.
APEC economies today purchase 58 percent of U.S. goods exports, and comprise a market of 2.7 billion consumers. Seven of America’s top 15 trade partners are in APEC.APEC is the only inter-governmental group that works on a non-binding basis, meaning that any consensus reached is undertaken voluntarily by APEC’s members.
The 21 member-economies are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.