Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
APEC is the premier Asia-Pacific economic forum. Its primary goal is to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC has 21 members. APEC seeks to build a dynamic and harmonious Asia-Pacific community by championing free and open trade and investment, promoting and accelerating regional economic integration, encouraging economic and technical cooperation, enhancing human security, and facilitating a favorable and sustainable business environment. APEC's work under its three main pillars of activity, Trade and Investment Liberalization, Business Facilitation and Economic and Technical Cooperation, has helped drive this economic growth and improve employment opportunities and standards of living for the citizens of the region.
The idea of APEC was firstly publicly broached by former Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Bob Hawke, during a speech in Seoul, Korea in January 1989. Later that year, 12 Asia-Pacific economies met in Canberra, Australia to establish APEC. The founding members were: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the United States. China, Hong Kong, and Chinese Taipei joined in 1991. Mexico and Papua New Guinea followed in 1993. Chile acceded in 1994. And in 1998, Peru, Russia and Vietnam joined, taking the full membership to 21.
The Asia-Pacific region has consistently been the most economically dynamic region in the world. APEC member economies together account for: 40 per cent of world population (2.7 billion people); 44 per cent of global trade ($16.8 trillion) and 53 per cent of world real GDP in purchasing power parity terms ($35.8 trillion). The region's real GDP (PPP) has also doubled from $17.7 trillion in 1989 to $35.8 trillion in 2010. By comparison, real GDP (PPP) in the rest of the world has only grown at 3 per cent per year, from $17.2 trillion to $31.9 trillion. This means that APEC's share of world real GDP has increased from 51 per cent in 1989 to 53 per cent in 2010.
India has requested membership in APEC, and received initial support from the United States, Japan and Australia. Officials have decided not to allow India to join for various reasons. However, India has been invited to be an observer for the first time in November 2011.