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What you need to know about APEC

By Allison Schaefers

LAST UPDATED: 1:52 a.m. HST, Nov 9, 2011

What is APEC?

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation is a 21-member association of nations from the Asia-Pacific region that work together to improve economic conditions in the region. APEC was created in 1989 and since that time has helped to reduce some tariffs and other barriers to trade in Asia and the Pacific. The association creates an opportunity for businesses throughout the region to interact openly with each other and to improve international trade through training and education. The APEC Leaders' Meeting, which brings together heads of state from all member nations, began in 1993.

Why does APEC call its member nations economies?

By calling APEC members "economies" rather than "countries," the alliance emphasizes the point that money is the chief reason to meet. APEC, members say, is supposed to be about money and not politics. The terminology also sidesteps the political issue of whether Taiwan or Hong Kong, one of two special administrative regions of China, are considered independent of the government in Beijing.

What does APEC do for travel?

APEC has made it easier for business travelers to come to some member nations. The APEC Business Travel Card gives holders visa-free travel and expedites processing in member nations that participate. Other member nations have expanded the number of visa waivers and multiple entry visas that they offer. The U.S. has allowed 36 countries to participate in its Visa Waiver Program. APEC nations on this list include Australia, Brunei, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore.

How much clout does APEC have?

APEC nations account for 55 percent of global GDP, purchase 58 percent of U.S. goods exports and comprise a market of 2.7 billion consumers. Seven of America's top 15 trade partners are in APEC. In Hawaii, visitors from APEC nations account for 89 percent of the state's tourist dollars.

What long-term goal is APEC working toward?

Leaders of APEC nations pledged at their 1994 meeting in Bogor, Indonesia, to create the world's largest area of free trade and investment by 2020. The pledge, which is known in APEC circles as the Bogor Goals, set 2010 as the target for APEC's developed nations to achieve free trade and 2020 as the target for its developing nations to get there, too. In 1995 in Japan, APEC leaders approved the Osaka Action Agenda, and the next year, while meeting in the Philippines, they endorsed the Manila Action Plan to speed themselves toward the Bogor Goals. Pathfinder Initiatives, another key APEC development, allow member nations to pilot proposed actions prior to their adoption by all.

Is APEC governed by rules and does it have enforcement power?

No. APEC meetings are voluntary, and so are the adoption of any new policies that come out of these events. Members set examples for each other and use peer pressure to make progress.

How did President Barack Obama become this year's chairman of the APEC Leaders' Meeting, and how did Hawaii get this event?

The chairmanship of the APEC Leaders' Meeting rotates each year, and that leader picks the meeting place. Hawaii worked hard to persuade Obama that his birth state would be the ideal site to host event's apex. Last year the event was held in Yokohama, Japan. Next year it will be held on Russky Island, off the coast of Vladivostok, Russia.

What do supporters and opponents say about APEC?

Supporters say APEC can help Asia-Pacific economies by removing obstacles to doing business in the region and that it can help member nations ready themselves for new technology, changing business trends and e-commerce. Opponents decry APEC's focus on free trade at the expense of small businesses and farmers. They say the group favors multinational corporations over workers and environmental safety.


20,000: Estimated number of APEC 2011 attendees

$123 million: Estimated economic boost to Hawaii

$137 million: Estimated public/private investment to host APEC

120,000: Estimated number of hotel-room nights filled

Source: OmniTrak Group; Star-Advertiser research


21: Member nations, which are referred to as member economies

2.7 billion: Total population of the 21 members, which is more than a third of the world's population

$19,254 billion: Gross Domestic Product of member economies, which account for about 60 percent of the world's GDP

43%: Percentage of world trade


Year Host Country Location
1993 United States Seattle
1994 Indonesia Bogor
1995 Japan Osaka
1996 Philippines Manila and Subic
1997 Canada Vancouver
1998 Malaysia Kuala Lumpur
1999 New Zealand Auckland
2000 Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan
2001 China Shanghai
2002 Mexico Los Cabos
2003 Thailand Bangkok
2004 Chile Santiago
2005 Korea Busan
2006 Vietnam Hanoi
2007 Australia Sydney
2008 Peru Lima
2009 Singapore Singapore
2010 Japan Yokohama
2011 United States Honolulu
2012 Russia Vladivostok
2013 Indonesia Manado and Bali


South Korea
New Zealand
United States

Hong Kong, China

Papua New Guinea



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