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Rules of Procedure on Participation by Non-Members in APEC Working Groups


The following rules spell out the rights of participation by non-members in APEC Working Group meetings, and the supporting role of the chair in controlling non-member participation in such meetings and ensuring that it conforms with all APEC procedures and requirements.

1. Guests may be invited by the chair to address a working group meeting on an agreed topic where this is relevant to the item under consideration

2. Guests may be invited by the chair to respond to questions that arise in a Working Group meeting

3. Guests, with the agreement of the chair, may be permitted to circulate documents on relevant subjects inside APEC Working Group meetings

4. The chair may convene closed sessions of Working Group meetings excluding guests and observers

It is further recommended that when non-members will be taking part in Working Group meetings, the chair convene preparatory discussions, excluding guests, to arrive at a consensus among members present as to possible topics which the non-member participants may be invited by the chair to address during the open session, and the type of information or documentation to be made available to participating non-members.

It is agreed that non-member participants are "guests" and not permanent observers.

NOTE: Nothing in these rules changes the status of official observers - ASEAN Secretariat, Pacific Economic Cooperation Council and the South Pacific Forum. Should these organizations send representatives to a Working Group or other APEC meeting, they have the same full access to documents and the information that they have at Senior Officials Meetings and Ministerial Meetings.

Guidelines and Criteria For Non-Member Participation in APEC Working Group Activities

The general criteria and procedures relating to non-member participation which follow serve to determine the eligibility of non-members in attending APEC Working Group meetings.

A. Criteria relating to the effectiveness of non-member participation in Working Group activities

1. The participation of non members in Working Group activities, including the proposed non-members to be invited, should be explicitly outlined in proposals for the projects submitted for endorsement by the Working Group;

2. It is understood that the Working Group activities will include a majority of APEC members;

3. Non-member economies or organizations whose participation in Working Group activities is being considered should have strong links with the Asia-Pacific region;

4. Both APEC members and non-members should benefit from such participation;

5. Priority should be given to the importance of promoting liaison with other regional organizations.

B. Procedures to facilitate non-member participation in Working Group activities

1. Decisions on participation by relevant international organizations, non-governmental associations, and the business sector should be made by the Working Group concerned on the basis of consensus, and shepherds should consult with other Working Group members;

2. With respect to participation by non-member officials, the request should be referred to the shepherd(s) of the concerned Working Group(s). The concerned Working Group should in turn inform the Secretariat once consensus has been reached. The Secretariat will in turn seek the approval of Senior Officials;

3. All such participants should be designated as "guest";

4. The APEC Secretariat in Singapore should act as the point of contact for non-members who wish to participate in APEC Working Group activities;

5. The Secretariat will keep a record of non-member interest and participation in APEC activities.

Guidelines, Rules and Procedures for Non-Member Participation in APEC Working Group Activities


  • APEC has four possible categories of participants in Working Group activities:
  • APEC members
  • APEC Secretariat
  • APEC observers (currently the Association of South East Asian Nations, the South Pacific Forum and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council)
  • APEC guests,
Within the category of "guests" there are three sub-groups:
  • non-member economies
  • other relevant regional/international organisations
  • business/private sector representatives not included as part of member economy delegations (a number of member economies include business/private sector representatives as part of their own delegations and these representatives have the full rights of all participants of member economy delegations, at the discretion of their heads of delegation)
In general, non-member economies or organizations and business/private sector representatives may be invited to the meetings of APEC upon such terms and conditions as may be determined by all existing participants (Seoul Declaration, 14 November 1991).

This paper consolidates the guidelines and criteria agreed by APEC Senior Officials in Seattle in June 1993 for participation by non members or "guests" in APEC Working Group activities, and in Honolulu in September 1993 on the rules and procedures for such participation.