Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum of 21 Asia-Pacific economies. It was established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence among Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional trade blocs in other parts of the world. Its primary purpose is to promote sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. Singapore was a founding member alongside 11 other economies.

APEC's member economies are home to more than 2.9 billion people and account for 60% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018. APEC’s real GDP growth rates have generally been higher than the rest of the world for most of the past three decades.

Since its inception in 1989, trade in goods and services between APEC economies have more than tripled. Based on the APEC Policy Support Unit (PSU) report in 2019, the total value of APEC merchandise exports grew from USD $1.2 trillion in 1989 to USD $9.6 trillion in 2018. A similar increasing trend is also seen in intra-APEC exports which increased almost eight-fold during the period, from USD $0.9 trillion to USD $6.8 trillion. The value of total APEC merchandise imports increased by more than seven times, from USD $1.3 trillion to USD $9.9 trillion. The region’s intra-regional imports peaked at USD $6.8 million in 2018 from a value of USD $0.9 trillion in 1989.

APEC operates on the basis of open dialogue and aims to strengthen regional economic integration by:
  • facilitating trade and investment "across the border";
  • removing supply chain chokepoints “at the border”; and
  • improving business climates "behind the border".
The focus of APEC’s work is connecting and integrating economies within the region so as to facilitate the ease of doing business within and between them. APEC leaders, ministers, senior officials and business representatives meet regularly to take the APEC agenda forward. APEC decisions are reached by consensus, and commitments are made on a voluntary basis.


APEC supports the work of other international organisations such as the WTO. APEC recognises that the ability of its members to implement WTO agreements directly affects the capability to meet APEC’s main goal of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific. APEC is therefore actively pursuing WTO capacity building projects and initiatives to meet these objectives.

Singapore in APEC

APEC economies account for over 75% of Singapore’s global trade in goods and services. Singapore participates actively in APEC with a view to deepen economic integration in the region and strengthen economic linkages with individual APEC economies. APEC also serves as a useful platform to share experiences and best practices as well as incubate fresh ideas and approaches on a variety of topics. Singapore is supportive of APEC’s wide-ranging agenda beyond trade issues, including areas such as human resource development, food security, health and digital economy.

In 2009, Singapore chaired APEC under the theme of “Sustaining Growth, Connecting the Region”. Our chairmanship focused on recovering from the Great Financial Crisis by supporting the WTO, accelerating regional economic integration and strengthening the APEC institution.

APEC 2020

Malaysia is the APEC Chair for 2020. Under the theme, “Optimising Human Potential Towards a Resilient Future of Shared Prosperity. Pivot. Prioritise. Progress.”, Malaysia has three key priority areas namely:
  1. Improving the narrative of trade and investment;
  2. Inclusive economic participation through digital economy and technology; and
  3. Driving innovative sustainability

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