The APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) is a premier intergovernmental forum, founded in 1989 for enhancing the economic growth, cooperation, trade and investments in the Asia-Pacific region. The APEC is one-of-the-kind in the world. The organization cooperates on the basis of an unconstrained commitment, a mutual dialogue and equal respect for views and opinions of all participants. Unlike other international trade organizations, no treaty obligation is required to become a participant of the APEC. Perhaps, some free cooperation is one of the factors that determine a comprehensive impact of the APEC's activities on the economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region.
APEC members are the U.S.A., Canada, China, Taiwan (officially Chinese Taipei), Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Russia and Vietnam.
Together, the APEC countries form over fifty percent of the world's merchandise trade, half the global GNP and two-fifths of the world population. Operating from the secretariat in Singapore, the APEC sponsors regular meetings and annual summits of senior government officials and heads of state. The major aim of the organization is to define broad regional goals, while specific and narrow aspects are further developed by each nation.
Since its establishment, the APEC has worked to decrease taxes and other trade barriers across the Asia-Pacific region, creating efficient domestic economies and dramatically increasing exports. The APEC's major goals, called 'Bogor Goals', are to achieve free and open trade and investments in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialized economies and 2020 for developing and poorest economies. These goals were adopted by the APEC Leaders at their 1994 meeting in Bogor, Indonesia. All meetings, forums and activities are aimed to promote human and economic resource development and work out actual trade and investment liberalization.
At the 1997 Vancouver meeting, APEC leaders agreed to negotiate specific, mandatory trade liberalization targets in nine sectors on a fast-track basis, covering one point five trillion dollars in trade (known as Early Voluntary Sectoral Liberalization). Those sectors included chemicals, fisheries, forestry, energy goods and services, environmental goods and services, gems and jewelry, medical equipment, toys, and a telecommunications mutual recognition agreement. The agreement was approved in 1998.
Further meetings led to more agreements in the sphere of Asia-Pacific trade as well as to researching and specifying the weakest points in the economies. Some of these contain a failure to connect the trade, investment and environmental tracks, problems with trade models of each nation and an opposition to the free trade agenda, which the APEC offers.
Summarizing the achievements of the APEC through the year 2005, Michael Michalak, the United States' senior official for the APEC, has pointed out many gains in trade, health and security, achieved through the organization's activities and stated that the APEC was going to the further advance prosperity and security of each partner.