HANOI -- The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies began their annual APEC forum in Vietnam's capital Hanoi on Sunday with the start of the two-day Concluding Senior Officials' Meeting (CSOM).
The APEC meetings also include the annual ministerial meeting on Nov. 15-16, a CEO summit on Nov. 17-19 and the 14th Economic Leaders' Meeting on Nov. 18-19.
Since its inception in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence among Asia-Pacific economies, APEC has become a major regional forum acting as the primary regional vehicle for promoting open trade and practical economic and technical cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
APEC has represented the most economically dynamic region in the world, with its 21 member economies accounting for more than one third of the world's population (2.6 billion people), approximately 60 percent of world GDP (19, 254 billion U.S. dollars), about 47 percent of world trade, and having generated nearly 70 percent of global economic growth in its first 10 years.
APEC currently has 21 members: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, China's Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. The chairmanship rotates among members, with Vietnam holding the chair this year.
The purpose of the APEC meetings is to promote free trade and cooperation among members in the fields of economy, trade, investment and technology.
Key to achieving APEC's vision are the "Bogor Goals," which specify the APEC objectives for free and open trade and investment among industrialized members by 2010, and among developing members by 2020. Bogor Goals were adopted by APEC Economic Leaders at their 1994 meeting in Bogor, Indonesia. To achieve these objectives, APEC member economies developed a framework in Osaka, Japan, in 1995, which set out three main areas of cooperation in Trade, Investment Liberalization and Facilitation (TILF), Economic and Technical Cooperation (ECOTECH), and Business Facilitation.
The main theme of this year's APEC meetings is "Towards a Dynamic Community for Sustainable Development and Prosperity."
APEC has a five-layer structure: the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, the Ministerial Meeting, Senior Officials Meetings (SOM), committees and working groups, and the Secretariat.
SOMs are a series of meetings held three or four times a year, with the concluding session being convened to prepare agenda and documents for the subsequent ministerial and leaders' meetings.
The Ministerial Meeting, or dual-ministerial meeting, is attended by ministers of member economies in charge of foreign affairs and trade to prepare for the Economic Leaders' Meeting.
The informal leaders' meeting is held for member leaders to exchange views on economic issues and constitute the highest level of APEC activities. The first such meeting took place in the U.S. city of Seattle in November 1993.
The APEC Secretariat, located in Singapore, was set up in February 1993.