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Trade and Industry Department The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
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Background of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
APEC - Advancing Free Trade for Asia-Pacific Prosperity

What is APEC? 

APEC is an informal forum set up in 1989 for high level government-to-government dialogue on trade and economic issues.  APEC aims 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 favourable and sustainable business environment.

APEC operates on the basis of non-binding commitments, open dialogue and equal respect for the views of all participants.  Unlike the World Trade Organization (WTO) or other multilateral trade bodies, APEC has no treaty obligations required of its participants.  Decisions made within APEC are reached by consensus and commitments are undertaken on a voluntary basis.

The annual highlight of APEC is the Economic Leaders' Meeting at which Economic Leaders meet informally to exchange views and to give political attention and support at the highest level to the APEC process.  An APEC Ministerial Meeting is also held each year right before the Economic Leaders' Meeting to take stock of APEC's work in the past year and decide on the future work programme.

Information on APEC's work and achievements can be found in the APEC website at

APEC's Membership

APEC comprises 21 member economies, namely, Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; China; Hong Kong, China (HKC); Indonesia; Japan; Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; the Philippines; Russia; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; the United States and Viet Nam.  APEC also has three observers, namely the ASEAN Secretariat, Pacific Islands Forum and Pacific Economic Cooperation Council.

APEC Chairmanship

The APEC Chairmanship each year is decided by APEC member economies by consensus.  The Economic Leaders', Ministerial and Senior Officials' Meetings in the year are hosted by the Chair.  APEC 2016 is chaired by Peru. Viet Nam, Papua New Guinea, Chile and Malaysia will chair APEC in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Private/Business Sector Participation in APEC

The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) was established by the Economic Leaders in November 1995 to provide advice to APEC on business sector priorities, and to respond to requests from various APEC fora for information about business perspective on specific areas.  ABAC presents annual reports to APEC Economic Leaders.  They contain specific recommendations for improving business conditions and expanding trade and investment facilitation and liberalisation in the region.

ABAC comprises up to three members and three alternate members of the private sector from each APEC member economy, to be appointed by their respective Economic Leaders.

The ABAC Chair rotates annually in consonance with the APEC Chair.  The host economy for the year is to designate one of its ABAC Members to serve as ABAC Chair.  There are two ABAC Co-Chairs, one from the immediate past ABAC Chair, and another from the immediate future ABAC Chair.