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Frequently Asked Questions

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1. When was Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, established?

APEC began as an informal dialogue group in 1989, but has since become the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.

In 1993, an APEC Secretariat was established in Singapore to support the activities of the forum.

2. What are APEC's main goals?

Key to achieving APEC's vision are what are referred to as the 'Bogor Goals' of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialised economies and 2020 for developing economies. These goals were agreed by APEC Economic Leaders in Bogor, Indonesia in 1994.

To achieve these goals APEC member economies developed a framework in Osaka, Japan in 1995, which set out three key areas of cooperation. Sometimes known as the 'Three Pillars' of APEC, these are the areas of Trade and Investment Liberalisation, Business Facilitation, and Economic and Technical Cooperation.

3. Who are the members of APEC?

APEC has 21 members referred to as ‘member economies.’ The term ‘member economies’ is used because the APEC cooperative process is predominantly concerned with trade and economic issues, with members engaging with one another as economic entities.

APEC's 21 member economies are: 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 Viet Nam.

4. How does APEC differ from the World Trade Organization (WTO)?

APEC and the WTO are complementary in that both are working towards the same goals of free and open trade and investment across borders.

APEC operates on the basis of non-binding commitments, open dialogue and equal respect for the views of all participants. Unlike the WTO or other multilateral trade bodies, APEC has no treaty obligations required of its participants. Decisions made within APEC are reached by consensus and commitments are undertaken on a voluntary basis.

5. Who sets the APEC agenda and work plan?

APEC operates with the consent of the Economic Leaders and Ministers of APEC member economies who meet throughout the year to chart the future of trade and investment cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. At the highest level, the leaders of APEC member economies are the custodians and guardians of the APEC process.

At the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting that is held at the end of each year, a declaration is issued which lays out the priorities for APEC over the following year. Ministers representing various portfolios, Senior Officials and members of various APEC forums meet throughout the year to launch new initiatives, track the progress of existing programmes and implement directives from the leaders.

6. What are the benefits of being an APEC member?

APEC member economies benefit from being a part of APEC at many levels. At a multilateral level, APEC brings together the views of 21 member economies, the business community and other parties to attend to issues that impact on the Asia-Pacific region. APEC is a meeting place of ideas, concerns and plans for the future growth of the region.

For developing economies, APEC provides additional benefits in areas such as the development of procedures, policy frameworks and systems to deal with contemporary issues. These issues range from transparency and governance to financial sector reform and customs procedures. There are numerous APEC forums, working group meetings and seminars throughout the year in which representatives from developing economies have the opportunity to learn new skills and best practices from other economies.

Developing economies also have the opportunity to help set APEC's agenda and have as much say as some of the largest economies in the world.

For businesses from APEC member economies, the most obvious benefits are the reduction in barriers and impediments to trade across borders.

7. What is the status of the moratorium on APEC membership?

In 1997 a moratorium on membership was put in place for a ten-year period. At the end of 2007 the moratorium was extended to 2010.

8. What is APEC's annual budget?

APEC is not a donor organisation. Instead, APEC activities are centrally funded by small annual contributions from APEC member economies - since 1999 these have totalled to around US$3.38 million each year. These contributions are used to fund a Secretariat in Singapore and various projects which support APEC's economic and trade goals. Some APEC economies also provide additional funds for projects which support APEC's trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation goals.

9. How much of the world's trade takes place in the APEC region?

The 21 APEC member economies collectively account for more than half of world real GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP); this was a total of about US$35.8 trillion for all APEC economies in 2011. APEC economies also account for over 44 percent of total world trade.

A more complete breakdown of these figures as they relate to each APEC economy is available on StatsAPEC (

10. Who works at the APEC Secretariat?

Based in Singapore, the APEC Secretariat is staffed by around 60 people, including about 17 seconded diplomatic personnel from member economies who oversee APEC working groups. Staff employed directly by the Secretariat fulfil specialist and support functions.

The Secretariat is headed by an Executive Director. The APEC Secretariat serves as the core support mechanism for the APEC process, providing procedural guidance, coordination, information and public outreach services.

The APEC Secretariat is housed in a building funded by the Government of Singapore that is located on the grounds of the National University of Singapore.

11. How is the SOM Chair appointed?

Each year one APEC economy plays host to the most senior APEC events including the annual Economic Leaders' Meeting, Ministerial Meetings, Senior Officials Meetings and a number of other events. As the host economy of an APEC year, that economy nominates a Chair to preside over these meetings.

12. Employment opportunities

From time to time APEC has employment openings for any of the range of positions that are currently filled at the APEC Secretariat. These positions range from secretarial and support positions to specialist positions ranging from information technology, to document management and communications.

These positions are advertised on the APEC Website.

13. Who participates in APEC events?

Four categories have been developed for participation in APEC Working Group activities. These are -

• the 21 APEC member economies,

• the APEC Secretariat ,

• APEC observers - the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat, the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIF), and

• guest participants to the APEC process include a diverse range of participants from the public and private sectors.

14. How can I participate in APEC events?

APEC actively involves key stakeholders from the business sector, industry, academia, policy and research institutions, and interest groups within the community in the APEC process. More specifically APEC welcomes participation that -

• Facilitates the attainment of APEC goals through appropriate partnerships,

• Strengthens the quality of APEC's work by drawing on relevant insight and expertise, and

• Strengthens understanding and support for APEC's goals through openness, transparency and a broad-based partnership that seeks multiple perspectives from the community.

In general, non-member economies, organisations, business/private sector representatives, academic bodies and other experts may apply or be invited to APEC activities subject to guidelines. Find out more in the Stakeholder Participation section of this website.

15. APEC Media Mailing List

The APEC Secretariat distributes public information such as media releases and speeches to an extensive list of media contacts around the world. Officials from governments, the business sector and members of the public are also invited to place their contact details in the APEC distribution list. To receive the latest information on APEC, send an e-mail with the words "Media List" in the subject line to: [email protected] or