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Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation: Meaning, Overview and History

Photo: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Photo: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation: Meaning, Overview and History

The principal objectives of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a 21-member economic organization founded in 1989, are to advance free trade and sustainable development in the economies of the Pacific Rim.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in its entirety

APEC’s main objective is to ensure that commodities, services, capital, and labor can travel freely across borders. This includes improving border customs efficiency, fostering advantageous business environments inside member economies, and harmonizing rules and regulations throughout the area.

The primary reason for the formation of APEC was the growing economic interconnectedness of the Asia-Pacific region. The development of regional economic blocs like the European Union (EU) and the (now-defunct) North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the latter half of the 20th century contributed to the creation of APEC.

Countries that make up APEC

Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States were the founding members of APEC. Since its inception, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Peru, Russia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Taiwan have joined since its inception.

Due to the emphasis on trade and economic matters rather than the occasionally delicate diplomatic issues of the area, such as the status of Taiwan and Hong Kong, APEC refers to its members as economies rather than nations. The People’s Republic of China (PRC), which bases its claim on the island being a province under its constitution, does not recognize Taiwan. On the other hand, Hong Kong operates as a territory of China with limited autonomy.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) are all recognized as official observers of APEC.

Actions and Objectives of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

APEC set an ambitious aim for countries with developed economies to create free trade and investment regimes across the Asia-Pacific region by 2010 during a historic summit conference in 1994. By 2020, the association planned to accomplish the same objectives for its members in developing economies. 1995 APEC approved the Osaka Action Agenda, a blueprint for streamlining business operations, liberalizing trade and investment, and promoting economic and technological cooperation. However, due to the consensus-based decision-making culture of APEC, the development of these initiatives has been somewhat delayed. The member countries are not required to abide by certain decisions, even though they are unanimous.

APEC Sub-Groups

In addition to maintaining dedicated working groups to investigate and advance different challenges and elements of economic growth, APEC also maintains a policy support section to provide research and analysis to support the organization’s aims for the area.

These organizations participate in various micro-issues designed to increase awareness and policy. These sub-groups include, for instance:

  • Gender Issues: To promote women’s economic integration, APEC sponsors a policy collaboration on women and the economy. There are presently an estimated 600 million women working in the region.
  • Intellectual Property Rights: The Intellectual Property Rights Experts Group (IPEG) of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) researches and shares knowledge about the region’s implementation of intellectual property rights safeguards. It encourages and makes it easier for people to work together to implement the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • Emergency Preparedness: To improve the region’s ability to handle calamities and natural disasters, APEC’s Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG) encourages corporate resilience, public-private collaborations, and information exchange among members. Events like tsunamis, typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions can harm the economies along the geologically and climatologically active Pacific Rim.


  • A 21-member economic organization, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), was founded in 1989.
  • The nations that support free trade and sustainable development in the economies of the Pacific Rim make up APEC, which includes the United States.
  • Numerous APEC sub-groups work to raise awareness and policy for various micro-causes, including intellectual property rights and emergency preparedness.
  • The role of APEC has been crucial in lowering tariffs, enhancing the effectiveness of customs, and bridging the gap between emerging and industrialized nations.

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