Foundation Date : November, 1989
Headquarter : Singapore
Executive Director : Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria
Member Countries : 21
The idea of APEC was firstly publicly broached by former Prime Minister of Australia Bob Hawke during a speech in Seoul, Korea, on 31 January 1989. Ten months later, 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 Viet Nam joined, taking the full membership to 21. Between 1989 and 1992, APEC met as an informal senior official- and ministerial-level dialogue. In 1993, former US President Bill Clinton established the practice of an annual APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting to provide greater strategic vision and direction for cooperation in the region.
PEC has grown to become a dynamic engine of economic growth and one of the most important regional forums in the Asia-Pacific. Its 21 member economies are home to around 2.8 billion people and represent approximately 59 per cent of world GDP and 49 per cent of world trade in 2015. As a result of APEC’s work, growth has soared in the region, with real GDP increasing from USD 19 trillion in 1989 to USD 42 trillion in 2015. Meanwhile, residents of the Asia-Pacific saw their per capita income rise by 74 per cent, lifting millions out of poverty and creating a growing middle class in just over two decades. Bringing the region closer together, reducing trade barriers, and smoothing out differences in regulations have boosted trade which, in turn, has led to this dramatic increase in prosperity. Average tariffs fell from 17 per cent in 1989 to 5.2 per cent in 2012. During that same time period, the APEC region’s total trade increased over seven times—outpacing the rest of the world with two-thirds of this trade occurring between member economies.
APEC implements a wide variety of initiatives to help integrate the region’s economies and promote trade while addressing sustainability and social equity.
Since 1989, APEC’s role in facilitating regional integration has proven essential to promoting trade and economic growth in the Asia-Pacific. For example, reducing trade barriers between members, harmonizing standards and regulations, and streamlining customs procedures have enabled goods to move more easily across borders.
In 1994, APEC Leaders committed to achieving the ‘Bogor Goals’ of free and open trade and investment by 2020 through reducing trade barriers in the region and promoting the free flow of goods, services and capital among APEC economies. Since then, members have made measurable progress in achieving these goals. APEC’s Trade Facilitation Action Plan which includes streamlining customs procedures reached its target of region-wide reduction in costs at the border by 5 per cent between 2004 and 2006. A further 5 per cent decrease was achieved between 2007 and 2010, which saved businesses in the Asia-Pacific a total of USD 58.7 billion. Over time, the APEC agenda has broadened its focus to address behind-the-border barriers such as improving regulatory practices and the local business climate.
APEC launched its Ease of Doing Business Action Plan in 2009, with the goal of making it cheaper, easier and faster to do business in the region. Between 2009 and 2013, member economies improved the ease of doing business in the Asia-Pacific by 11.3 per cent across all areas of the initiative, including starting a business, getting credit or applying for permits. For example, APEC has expedited the time it takes for a company to build a new factory or office building. Today, construction permits are issued at a faster pace, dropping 18.7 per cent from 169 days to 134 days in the last four years with APEC topping the charts globally for the shortest permit time. Starting a company in the Asia-Pacific is also simpler with the number of procedures falling by 20.2 per cent since 2009.
In 2011, member economies committed to reduce energy intensity in the region by 45 per cent by 2030. In 2014, members agreed to work toward doubling the share of renewables by 2030 in APEC's energy mix, including in power generation. Members are also committed to rationalizing and phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption. The APEC Energy Working Group's many projects help members reach these goals.
Funded by a multi-year project under the APEC Energy Working Group, APEC helped urban planners develop low-carbon model town plans for a series of cities throughout the Asia-Pacific. These cities are reducing their carbon footprint by adopting a set of carbon emission reduction targets and energy efficient initiatives from solar panels to electric vehicles. APEC projects also support the development of smart electricity grids that enable sources of clean power to be seamlessly connected to existing structures and distributed to rural communities.
In addition to supporting small businesses, APEC is working to ensure all members of the Asia-Pacific can participate in the growing economy. The APEC Digital Opportunity Center was established in 2004 to provide computer skills training to vulnerable rural and urban communities. With over a hundred centers in 10 APEC economies offering information technology (IT) training, the APEC Digital Opportunity Center (ADOC) is focused on transforming digital divides into digital opportunities. Over the last decade, these Centers have trained over half a million people throughout the APEC region, and almost half are female. Many men and women who received this digital training found jobs or started their own businesses, improving livelihoods and incomes for their families.
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