Skip to main content

How APEC Operates

Last page update:

APEC - A Multilateral Economic Forum

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) operates as a cooperative, multilateral economic and trade forum. It is the only international intergovernmental grouping in the world committed to reducing barriers to trade and investment without requiring its members to enter into legally binding obligations. APEC achieves its goals by promoting dialogue and arriving at decisions on a consensus basis, giving equal weight to the views of all members.

APEC member economies report progress towards achieving free and open trade and investment goals through Individual Action Plans (IAPs) and Collective Action Plans (CAPs).

Host Economy

Every year one of the 21 APEC member economies plays host to APEC meetings and serves as the APEC Chair. The APEC host economy is responsible for chairing the annual Economic Leaders' Meeting, selected ministerial meetings, senior officials’ meetings, the APEC Business Advisory Council and the APEC Study Centers Consortium. Up until 2009, the host filled the position of executive director of the APEC Secretariat. Since 2010, the appointment of the executive director has been on a fixed-term basis of three years, and is open to candidates from all member economies.


APEC is not a donor organization. APEC activities are centrally funded by annual contributions from APEC member economies presently totaling USD5 million. These contributions are used to fund the ssecretariat in Singapore and various projects which support APEC's economic and trade goals. Member economies also provide voluntary contributions to support projects that advance APEC's trade and investment liberalization and facilitation goals and to meet capacity-building needs, especially for APEC developing economies. In general, projects do the following:

  • Relate to the priorities of APEC economic leaders and APEC ministers
  • Cover the interest of at least several APEC member economies
  • Build capacity
  • Improve economic efficiency
  • Encourage the participation of the business sector, nongovernmental institutions and women

The Project Database contains information about all APEC projects.

Member economies also provide considerable resources to assist the operation of APEC. These include the secondment of professional staff to the Secretariat; the hosting of meetings; and partial or full funding of some projects.