In November 1989, the first Ministerial Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation was held in Canberra after a proposal by then-Prime Minister Bob Hawke of Australia to create a consultative system among gorvernments which would encompass the holding of ministerial-Ievel meetings to discuss economic issues in the Asia-Pacific region. In the years that followed, annual Ministerial Meetings were held in Singapore, Seoul and Bangkok. Then, in 1993, the Ministerial Meeting was held in Seattle and was immediately followed by the first APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, hosted by U.S. President William Clinton. In that meeting, a common recognition of the economic state of the region and the issues facing the region's economies was achieved among the leaders and the directionality on future regional cooperation was indicated (giving greater weight to the APEC activities that were to follow).
In the Bogor Declaration, "APEC Economic Leaders' Declaration of Common Resolve," adopted in November at the Economic Leaders Meeting held at Bogor Palace in Indonesia immediately after the Ministerial Meeting, the Leaders announced their commitment to complete the achievement of the goal of free and open trade and investment within the region by the year 2020 (2010 for industrialized economies), as well as the long-term goal of intensifying development cooperation.
The objectives of APEC are summarized in the Seoul Declaration, adopted at the third APEC Ministerial Meeting in Seoul. They are: (1) to sustain the growth and development of the region for the common good of its peoples and, in this way, to contribute to the growth and development of the world economy; (2) to enhance the positive gains, both for the region and the world economy, resulting from increasing economic interdependence, including by encouraging the flow of goods, services, capital and technology; (3) to develop and strengthen the open multilateral trading system in the interest of Asia-Pacific and all other economies; and (4) to reduce barriers to trade in goods and services and investment among participants in a manner consistent with GATT principles, where applicable, and without detriment to other economics.
- Dynamic economic growth continues
APEC is composed of economies spanning the broad pan-Pacific region, whose combined GDP amounts to more than half of the world GDP, Further, the significance of APEC is all the more important in that it includes the economies with the highest rate of growth in the world, namely the countries of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, the People's Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong.
- Not legally binding in nature
APEC is a forum for cooperation without legally binding mechanisms, and is not institutionalized like the United Nations or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
- Simultaneous participation of the People's
Republic of China, Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong
As a forum for consultations on economic issues, the APEC members participate not as countrics but as economics, and as a result, delegates from the People's Republic of China, Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong participate in meetings simultaneously.
- Consensus-based management
In APEC, when policy matters are to be decided, a decision is not based on a majority vote but on the principle of full consensus among the members.
- Diversity of member economies
As opposed to organizations like the European Union which focus on the European capitalist countries, which have achieved a relatively high level of development, there is great diversity in the levels of economic development and social conditions among the APEC member economies. For example, it is essential to remember that the per capita GNP of Japan and the United States is several tens of times that of Indonesia and China, as one example of the diversity of this region. This diversity should be taken into account.
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