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International Organizations – APEC

An international intergovernmental organization is an entity formed by the governments of various foreign countries to coordinate government policy and/or action on targeted issues. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is one type of an international organization. It is an economic organization based on the geographic area of the Pacific Rim.FormationAPEC began informally in 1989, with a meeting between government officials of 12 countries, including a representative from the United States. In 1993, the first meeting of member economy leaders took place.


There are over 20 members in APEC, including the United States. Members of APEC are referred to as “member economies.” Guidelines for member economies include:

  • located in the Asia-Pacific region
  • pursue market-driven economic policies
  • accept the principles set forth in various APEC documents.

Beginning in 1997, a 10-year moratorium on new members was imposed in order to give the existing member countries a chance to solidify their relationships and the APEC processes.


APEC was formed to enhance economic growth in the Pacific Rim countries. This goal is pursued by a movement toward free trade in the region. Specific goals for reducing or eliminating tariffs between member economies are set and measures are taken to create an environment conducive to the efficient movement of goods, services, and people among the member economies.

Central to APEC’s principles are the “Bogor Goals,” named after the location of the meeting in which the goals were adopted. The Bogor Goals aspire to free trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region by 2010 for industrialized economies and by 2020 for developing economies. In order to achieve the Bogor Goals, APEC member economies agreed upon three areas of specific concentration: trade and investment liberalization, business facilitation, and economic and technical cooperation.


Unlike most other intergovernmental organizations, APEC does not have a binding legal document as its base. Members participate on the basis of a non-binding commitment. Decisions are reached consensually and commitments are undertaken voluntarily.

Each year, an APEC member economy is the “host” for the wide variety of meetings that take place throughout the year. Among these meetings is an annual meeting at which the leaders of the member economies discuss various economic issues and set priorities for the upcoming year. In addition to the leaders’ meeting, there are Ministerial meetings and meetings of senior officials, among others. Standing committees are in place to address the wide variety of economic issues on an ongoing basis, outside of the meetings.

An APEC Secretariat is in place to support the organization. The highest-ranking officials in the Secretariat are the Executive Director and the Deputy Executive Director. At any given time, the Executive Director position is filled by a representative from the member economy that is the current host economy, and the Deputy position is filled by a representative from the next year’s host economy.

In addition to the APEC member economies, there are entities with “observer” status that can participate in APEC events. These observers include the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) Secretariats. Non-member economies, individual economic experts, and representatives from the business or academic sectors may also be invited to attend events.

Copyright 2015 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.