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Achievements and Benefits
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The Asia-Pacific region has consistently been the most economically dynamic region in the world. APEC member economies together account for: 40 percent of world population (2.7 billion people); 44 percent of global trade ($16.8 trillion) and 53 percent of world real GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms ($35.8 trillion).[1]

The region’s real GDP (PPP) has also doubled from $17.7 trillion in 1989 to $35.8 trillion in 2010. By comparison, real GDP (PPP) in the rest of the world has only grown at 3 percent per year, from $17.2 trillion to $31.9 trillion. This means that APEC’s share of world real GDP has increased from 51 percent in 1989 to 53 percent in 2010.

APEC's work under its three main pillars of activity, Trade and Investment Liberalisation, Business Facilitation and Economic and Technical Cooperation, has helped drive this economic growth and improve employment opportunities and standards of living for the citizens of the region.

Trade and Investment Liberalisation

  • APEC is the premier forum for trade and investment liberalisation in the Asia-Pacific and has set targets dates for "free and open trade": no later than the year 2010 for industrialized economies, and 2020 for developing economies (the Bogor Goals).
  • When APEC was established in 1989 average trade barriers in the region stood at 16.9%; by 2010 barriers had been reduced to 5.8%.[2]
  • As a consequence, intra-APEC merchandise trade (exports and imports) has grown from $1.7 trillion in 1989 to $9.9 trillion in 2010, nearly a six-fold increase; now accounting for 67 percent of APEC’s total merchandise trade.
  • Similarly, APEC’s total trade (goods & services) has increased from $3.1 trillion in 1989 to $16.8 trillion in 2010, over a fivefold increase. In the same period, total trade by the rest of the world has gone from $4.6 trillion to $21.1 trillion (a multiple of 4.6 times).
  • By June 2011, 48 FTAs had been signed between APEC members; there are currently 42 FTAs in force between APEC member economies.
  • APEC is also pursuing trade and investment liberalisation through its Regional Economic Integration agenda. Progress to date includes:
    • Investigating the prospects of and options for a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.
    • The development of 15 model measures for RTAs/FTAs that serve as a reference for APEC members to achieve comprehensive and high-quality agreements.
    • APEC has also acted as a catalyst in the advancement of World Trade Organisation multilateral trade negotiations over the past 20 years.

Business Facilitation

  • As a result of the APEC Trade Facilitation Action Plan (TFAP I) the cost of business transactions across the region was reduced by 5% between 2002 and 2006.
  • A second trade facilitation action plan (TFAP II) reduced transaction costs by a further 5% in real terms between 2007 and 2010, representing total savings for business of $58.7biillon
  • APEC initiatives that help facilitate trade include:
    • The introduction of electronic/paperless systems by all member economies, covering the payment of duties, and customs and trade-related document processing.
    • The Single Window Strategic Plan, adopted in 2007, provides a framework for the development of Single Window systems which will allow importers and exporters to submit information to government once, instead of to multiple government agencies, through a single entry point.
    • The APEC webpage on Tariffs and ROOs ("WebTR") launched in November 2010 provides users with easy access to APEC member economies' tariff and Rules of Origin information.
    • In 2008, a groundbreaking Investment Facilitation Action Plan was endorsed; it aims to improve the investment environment in Member Economies.
    • The APEC Privacy Framework provides guidance and direction to both APEC member economies and businesses on implementing information privacy protection policies and procedures. By facilitating information flows it will facilitate trade and e-commerce.
    • The APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) provides substantial time and cost savings to business people and facilitates their travel in the region, by allowing visa free travel and express lane transit at airports in participating economies.
    • APEC is also removing behind-the-border barriers to trade through its Structural Reform agenda, which focuses on reforming domestic policies and institutions that adversely affect the operation of markets, and the capacity of businesses to access markets and to operate efficiently.

Economic and Technical Cooperation

  • APEC's Economic and Technical Cooperation (ECOTECH) activities are designed to build capacity and skills in APEC member economies at both the individual and institutional level, to enable them to participate more fully in the regional economy.
  • Since APEC first began to undertake capacity building work in 1993, around 1600 projects have been initiated; at any moment in time, up to 170 projects may be in implementation. APEC contributes funding to around 100-150 projects each year, with a total value of over $23 million committed by APEC to projects in 2010-2011.
  • A particular focus has been reducing the digital divide between industrialized and developing economies:
    • In 2000, APEC set a goal of tripling internet usage in the region and that goal has now been achieved, as recognised by the 2008 APEC Ministerial Meeting on the Telecommunications and Information Industry. APEC is now focusing efforts on achieving the goal of universal access to broadband in the APEC region by 2015 – an ambitious target reaffirmed by Telecommunications Ministers in Okinawa, Japan in 2010.
    • A network of 46 APEC Digital Opportunity Centers (ADOC) now operate in 10 member economies. ADOC's objective is to transform the digital divide into digital opportunities and the centres act as local information and communication technology (ICT) resource centres, providing citizens and businesses of the region with access to ICT technologies, education and training.

Other Achievements

APEC has also been able to evolve its agenda to include pressing regional priorities. Examples include: counter-terrorism (The Shanghai Statement in 2001, and the Counter-Terrorism Task Force); human security (Health Working Group); emergency preparedness (Emergency Preparedness Working Group); climate change, energy security and clean development (The Sydney Declaration in 2007 and the APEC List of Environmental Goods in 2012); and the global financial crisis (The Vladivostok Statement in 2012).

[1] Unless otherwise stated, data in this section are sourced from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation's StatsAPEC, Key Indicators Database and Bilateral Linkages Database November 2011

[2] APEC Policy Support Unit (September 2012) APEC’s Bogor Goals Progress Report