The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation is the result of a call by Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke in January 1989 for Asian-Pacific economies to consult on how they could effectively cooperate and increase trade and investment flows in the Asia-Pacific. Australia’s motive was to create an Asia-Pacific economic identity, of which it would be an integral part. Japan endorsed the Australian proposal and became the second driving force in the creation of APEC. The first APEC meeting of trade and foreign ministers took place in Canberra in November of 1989 (with twelve attendees: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the U.S.).
A summit or Leaders’ Meeting has become an annual event since President Clinton invited leaders to Blake Island in 1993. The first APEC Leaders’ Meeting was held in Seattle in November 1993. This first Leaders’ Meeting of economies represented half the world’s population and 56% of its GNP. A year later all APEC leaders met at Bogor, Indonesia, and at that meeting the Leaders resolved to move to free trade and investment by 2010 for industrialized member economies, and by 2020 for developing member economies. The 1995 meetings were in Osaka, Japan where the Osaka Action Agenda was agreed to, setting out a template for future APEC work towards common goals. The Philippines convened the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in 1996 at Subic Bay. The Leaders’ Meeting was held in Vancouver, Canada in 1997 at the Museum of Anthropology on the University of British Columbia campus.
The following countries are members of APEC as of 1999: Australia, Brunei, Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam.
APEC has two standing committees, 10 working groups, and a few other forums that report to the Senior Officials Meeting. The two committees are the Committee for Trade and Investment (CTI) and the Economic Committee (EC). The CTI deals with trade and investment liberalization and business facilitation concerns. The role of the EC continues to evolve. It is primarily responsible for providing the Senior Officials Meeting with information and analysis on broad, crosscutting issues which are not easily handled by one of the working groups.
The ten working groups are: Trade and Investment Data, Trade Promotion, Investment and Industrial Science and Technology, Human Resource Development, Energy, Marine Resource Conservation, Telecommunications, Fisheries, Transportation, and Tourism.