ASIA PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION
APEC is a public sector forum established in 1989 to promote greater economic and trade cooperation in the Pacific Rim. Activities, programs and objectives are adopted upon approval on a consensus basis by its eighteen members, which include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua-New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Thailand, and the United States. In November 1996, APEC Leaders agreed to a timetable that would see the addition of a small number of additional members by 1999. Because APEC includes political entities other than countries, such as Hong Kong and Taiwan, the term "member economies" is used in place of "countries". In addition, as part of the negotiations which allowed simultaneous entry to Taiwan and China, Taiwan agreed to use the name Chinese Taipei within APEC.
APEC is governed by an annual Ministerial meeting (the delegates are the Foreign Ministers and the Trade Ministers of member economies) that tasks and delegates responsibilities to APEC Senior Officials. Senior Official Meetings (SOMs) are held about four times a year, and it is in the SOMs and related meetings that most of the work is progressed.
A summit, or "Leaders Meeting", has become an annual event since President Clinton invited Leaders to Blake Island in 1993. The Philippines hosted the SOMs in 1996, and the Leaders Meeting was held in November at Subic Bay. Canada will host the SOMs in 1997 and the Leaders Meeting will be held in Vancouver. Malaysia will host in 1998, New Zealand in 1999, and Brunei in 2000.
At the November 1994 Leaders Meeting in Bogor, Indonesia, all members signed a declaration of common resolve to establish free trade and investment in the region by the year 2020. Developed countries would aim for a 2010 deadline.
At the Osaka Leaders' Meeting in November 1995, APEC Members laid out the Osaka Action Agenda for getting to the Bogor free trade and investment goals. After a difficult discussion, member economies agreed that sensitive sectors, such as agriculture, will not be exempt from the Bogor goals.
The Manila Action Plan for APEC (MAPA) was announced in November 1996. It consists of Collective Action Plans (CAPs) and Individual Action Plans (IAPs) for getting to the Bogor goals. Both CAPs and IAPs are iterative documents subject to change as APEC progresses. In 1997, APEC will focus in part on trying to make the IAPs more comparable to each other. MAPA can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.apecsec.org.sg/mapa/volumes.html.
APEC STRUCTURE: APEC has two standing committees, 10 working groups, and a few other fora that report to the SOM. The two committees are the Committee for Trade and Investment (CTI) and the Economic Committee (EC). All working groups and Committees supplied CAPs for MAPA.
CTI deals with trade and investment liberalization and business facilitation concerns. It is largely responsible for guiding the development of IAPs by APEC members. The U.S. team is led by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). CTI is also the home of the Standards and Conformance Sub Committee and the Customs Procedures Sub Committee.
The role of the Economic Committee continues to evolve. It is primarily responsible for providing the SOM with information and analysis on broad, cross-cutting issues which are not easily handled by one of the working groups.
The ten working groups are; Trade and Investment Data, Trade Promotion, Investment and Industrial Science and Technology, Human Resource Development, Energy, Marine Resource Conservation, Telecommunications, Fisheries, Transportation, and Tourism.
In October 1996, APEC established an Experts Group on Agricultural Technical Cooperation (ATC). Work plans have been established in seven areas: plant and animal germplasm; biotechnology; marketing and processing of agricultural products; plant and animal quarantine and pest management; agricultural finance systems; technology transfer and training; and sustainable development. The United States will organize the work programs for marketing and quarantine.
The delay in bringing agriculture clearly into the APEC structure resulted from the sensitivities surrounding agricultural discussions during the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations. For the same reason, the ATC is focused primarily on technical issues. However, in 1996 APEC also instituted a Task Force on Food (TFF) to take a long term view of future agricultural supply, demand, and related issues, and to present recommendations for future APEC work in agriculture. ATC and TFF will coordinate, but will operate separately.
For additional information on APEC: contact the Asia and the Americas Division, Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA, Washington, DC 20250.
Telephone: (202) 720-1289
Fax: (202) 690-1093