Executive Summary

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum designed to facilitate free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific.1 Founded in 1989, APEC consists of 21 member economies in the region, which collectively account for over a third of the world’s population (2.6 billion people), 60% of world GDP (US$19,254 billion) and 47% of world trade.2

APEC plays a formative role in shaping economic debate and policy, both regionally and globally, with a number of its initiatives having been adopted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and resulting in opening up of trade and investment amongst member and non-member economies.

Bringing together ministers as well as leaders on an annual basis, APEC seeks to use regular dialogue to build consensus on policy measures, rather than employ a formal, binding institutional structure like the WTO. Predicated on the principles of consensus and volunteerism, APEC’s non-binding institutional architecture is unique but is subject to lengthy negotiations for this reason.

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