HANOI - Asia-Pacific leaders, ministers and company executives are taking part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Hanoi November 12-19, the first big international event that Vietnam has hosted.
The following are a few facts about APEC and Hanoi:
MEMBERS AND MISSION -- APEC's 21 member economies account for more than a third of the world's population (2.6 billion people), about 60 percent of world GDP, and 47 percent of world trade volume.
It also has accounted for 70 percent of global economic growth.
The member economies are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan (under the name Chinese Taipei), Thailand, United States and Vietnam.
ISSUES - APEC'S key policies are to promote trade liberalisation and economic growth in the region, although it has begun to take on security-related issues, including counter-terrorism initiatives.
The main item on the agenda this year is to agree a "Hanoi Declaration" that would further delineate a vast Asia-Pacific free trade area among the 21 members.
Other issues include counter-terrorism initiatives to protect trade, dealing with bird flu and other pandemic disasters, and finding ways to reduce business transaction costs.
HISTORY -- APEC was founded with 12 members in 1989 as a meeting of ministers in Australia. The APEC leaders meeting was held for the first time at the 1993 forum in Seattle and nearby Blake Island in Washington state.
HOST CITY HANOI -- Located on the Red River delta, Vietnam's capital traces its lineage back to the Neolithic age. Hanoi means "river interior" and the fast-growing city of 3.5 million still retains the charms of its long history, including the Old Quarter, the French Quarter, the city's 18 lakes and hundreds of pagodas and temples.
FASHION SHOW -- A tradition of the meeting is for all participants in APEC to don local costumes on the last day. In Hanoi, the leaders will wear the ao dai, a silk tunic, with possibly a turban to go with it, as this year's APEC haute couture.