Since its inception in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence among Asia-Pacific economies, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has become a major forum acting as the primary vehicle for promoting open trade and practical economic and technical cooperation in the region.
APEC has represented the most economically dynamic region in the world, with its member economies accounting for approximately 41 percent of the world's population, about 56 percent of world GDP and nearly half of world trade.
APEC currently has 21 members: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, China' Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. The chairmanship rotates among members, with Peru holding the chair this year.
The purpose of the APEC meetings is to promote free trade and cooperation among members in the fields of economy, trade, investment and technology.
Key to achieving APEC's vision are the "Bogor Goals," which specify the APEC objectives for free and open trade and investment among industrialized members by 2010, and among developing members by 2020.
Bogor Goals were adopted by APEC economic leaders at their 1994 meeting in Bogor, Indonesia. To achieve these objectives, APEC member economies developed a framework in Osaka, Japan, in 1995, which sets out three main areas of cooperation in Trade, Investment Liberalization and Facilitation (TILF), Economic and Technical Cooperation (ECOTECH), and Business Facilitation.
Acknowledging the clear link between security and prosperity, APEC leaders since 2002 have put in place a cooperative agenda on human security issues, which includes cooperation on counter-terrorism, health and emergency preparedness.
APEC has a five-layer structure: the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, the Ministerial Meeting, Senior Officials Meetings (SOMs),committees and working groups, and the Secretariat.
SOMs are a series of meetings held three or four times a year, with the concluding session being convened to prepare agenda and documents for the subsequent ministerial and leaders' meetings.
The Ministerial Meeting is attended by ministers or representatives of member economies in charge of foreign affairs and trade to prepare for the Economic Leaders' Meeting.
The informal economic leaders' meeting is held for member leaders to exchange views on economic issues and constitute the highest level of APEC activities. The first such meeting took place in the U.S. city of Seattle in November 1993.
The APEC Secretariat, located in Singapore, was set up in February 1993.
(Source: Xinhua News Agency)