Ministers from 12 Pacific Rim countries met in Australia's capital in Nov 1989 to discuss how to advance regional economic cooperation. They launched the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group. APEC leaders will observe the 20th anniversary at their November summit, and a global 20th anniversary essay contest is under way. The anniversary invites an assessment of APEC's progress towards its 1994 Bogor Goals.
APEC has almost doubled in size in 20 years, and member nations span four continents. The founding nations were: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the United States. China, Hong Kong and Taiwan joined in 1991. Mexico and Papua-New Guinea followed in 1993. Chile acceded in 1994. And in 1998, Peru, Russia and Viet Nam joined, taking the roster to 21 nations. Beijing regards Taiwan as a maverick province of China. The listing of Taiwan in the official APEC roster as "Chinese Taipei" is an indication of China's increasing clout in the group in the years since it joined. APEC's 1994 Bogor Goals set a deadline for free and open trade and investment in the region of 2010 for industrialized member economies and 2020 for developing member economies. At the 2005 summit, the leaders determined APEC was well on its way towards the Bognor Goals. In the early years APEC met mainly at the senior official level and ministerial level. Singapore hosted the second ministerial meeting in 1990, and the body set up a permanent secretariat in the city-state in Feb 1993. In November in the same year, former US president Bill Clinton established the practice of bringing heads of state and government together each year to set the policy agenda for APEC. The summit declarations over the years have mainly dealt with economic and trade issues, such as the 2008 declaration on the global economic crisis, and the decision in 2003 to re-energize the WTO Doha Development Agenda negotiations. But in 2007 the leaders took a tangent with a declaration that focused on climate change, energy security and clean development. And counter-terrorism was the theme of their 2001 Shanghai statement. APEC regards itself as a unique forum, operating on the basis of open dialogue and respect for the views of all participants. There are no binding commitments; compliance is achieved through discussion and mutual support in the form of economic and technical cooperation. In APEC, all economies have an equal say and decision-making is reached by consensus. Entrants in the 20th Anniversary Essay Contest must be a currently registered graduate or upper-level undergraduate students who are citizens or permanent residents of APEC member economies. The winner will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2009 APEC summit in Singapore in November. May/09
Date written/update: 2009-11-06