Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

"APEC" is the abbreviation of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, a loose economic and trade forum based in Singapore and managed by the APEC Secretariat. APEC spans a large portion of the globe, encompassing 21 nations in North and South America, Southeast Asia, Russia and Oceania. APEC was established in 1989 in response to Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke’s request for a meeting of Pacific Rim nations to discuss common economic issues. This meeting took place in Australia’s capital, Canberra, and was attended by political representatives, often the chief executive, from 12 Pacific nations.

The success of the initial meeting led to the scheduling of future meetings in other nations on a rotating basis and the establishment of ongoing discussions on the issues of the day. The meetings themselves give national leaders a chance to meet personally and for trade talks to be proposed, arranged and revived as the case may be. The original 12 “member economies”, as they are referred to, of the APEC forum include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and United States.

The third APEC meeting in 1991 saw the admission of China, Hong Kong, and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), a rare occurrence in that the mainland People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Taiwan-based Republic of China (ROC) do not often jointly participate in international organizations.

Further admissions to APEC occurred in 1993 with Mexico and Papua New Guinea, followed by Chile in 1994 and finally Peru, Russia and Vietnam in 1998. Notable countries bordering the Pacific Ocean who are not APEC members include Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, several Central American nations and North Korea.

Curiously, India, which does not have a Pacific coastline has applied for APEC membership and is expected to be accepted due to its prominent and growing economic relationship with other APEC member economies.

APEC meetings usually do not have a set agenda, but rather act as opportunities for the member economies to cement personal relationships and express support for agreements formulated at other economic conferences like World Trade Organization (WTO) rounds. A notable difference was the recent APEC forum held in Hanoi, Vietnam, at which the member economies voiced their united opposition to the 2006 nuclear test and missile launches conducted by North Korea.

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