Talking About APEC and Big Trade in Big Sky

May 15, 2011

Mrs Brenda J Fisher is the Senior APEC Affairs Coordinator and has been working in the International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit for 28 years, of which the last 12 years have been focused on coordinating the US Dept of Commerce’s engagement in APEC

This weekend I am writing to you from the beautiful venue of Big Sky, Montana where the second Senior Officials Meeting for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC is taking place. Additionally, the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Ministerial Meetings are being held her as well.

What is APEC?

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum was established in 1989 to take advantage of the growing interdependence among Asia-Pacific economies, to facilitate economic growth for all participants, and to enhance a sense of community.  It aims to improve regional trade and economic performance and linkages for the prosperity of the people in the region.  APEC aims to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by facilitating balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure economic growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.

APEC has grown to become one of the world’s most important regional groupings.  Its 21 member economies are home to more than 2.7 billion people and represent approximately 54 percent of world real GDP and 44 percent of world trade.  APEC is the most economically dynamic region in the world.  Since APEC’s inception, members have experienced average annual GDP growth of 3.6 percent, versus 2.9 percent growth in non-APEC economies (on a purchasing power parity basis).

APEC is a unique forum, operating on the basis of open dialogue and respect for the views of all participants. In APEC, all economies have an equal say and decision-making is reached by consensus. There are no binding commitments, compliance is achieved through discussion, and mutual support in the form of economic and technical cooperation.

APEC has helped to reduce tariffs and other barriers to trade across the Asia-Pacific region.  Business transaction costs were reduced by 10 percent between 2002 and 2010.  APEC has worked to create an environment to ensure the safe and efficient movement of goods, services and people across borders through policy decisions and capacity building.  During this period, APEC member economies have grown, and developing economies in particular have experienced substantial increases in GDP and standards of living.

The forum constantly adapts to allow members to deal with important new challenges to the region’s economic well-being.  This includes combating corruption, planning for pandemics and natural disasters, countering terrorism, addressing climate change and implementing structural policy reform.

Priorities for APEC USA 2011

In 2007, the United States volunteered to host the four major sets of APEC meetings in 2011:  in March in Washington, DC, in May in Big Sky, Montana, in September in San Francisco, and in November in Honolulu.   In Montana, APEC’s Trade Ministers and APEC’s Small and Medium Enterprise Ministers will meet separately (on May 19-20 and May 21, respectively) and also come together for the first time in a joint session on May 20.  A “Women in the Economy” Summit and joint Energy and Transportation Ministers meeting will be held in September.  APEC Trade Ministers will meet again in November, as will APEC’s Finance Ministers, immediately prior to the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Honolulu.