Canada and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, established in 1989, has become the pre-eminent economic forum in the Asia-Pacific region. Its primary purpose is to promote sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

As a founding member, APEC provides Canada with an opportunity to further strengthen trade and economic ties with some of the Asia-Pacific region’s most dynamic economies. APEC also serves as a platform to share best practices with key partners on trade, economic integration and structural reform.

APEC is an intergovernmental forum dedicated to promoting free trade and investment, economic growth and development, and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

APEC was established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence among Asia-Pacific economies and to the need to advance Asia-Pacific economic dynamism and sense of community.

Statements and Declarations from previous meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Overview of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, established in 1989, has become the pre-eminent economic forum in the Asia-Pacific region. Its primary purpose is to promote sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. Every year, one of APEC’s 21 member economies serves as the forum host. Papua New Guinea is APEC host in 2018.

APEC aims to strengthen regional economic integration by removing impediments to trade and investment “at the border”, enhancing supply chain connectivity "across the border" and improving the business environment "behind the border." The goal is to improve the operating environment for business by cutting red tape and other barriers. APEC also helps member economies build the institutional capacity to implement and take advantage of the benefits of trade and investment reform. APEC supports the multilateral trade negotiations underway in the World Trade Organization and complements the goals of the G20.

APEC operates on the basis of non-binding commitments and open dialogue. Decisions made within APEC are reached by consensus, and commitments are undertaken on a voluntary basis. The APEC Secretariat is based in Singapore and provides coordination, technical and advisory support as well as information management, communications, and public outreach services.

Canada and APEC

As a founding member, APEC provides Canada with an opportunity to further strengthen trade and economic ties with some of the Asia-Pacific region’s most dynamic economies. APEC also serves as a platform to share best practices with key partners on trade, economic integration and structural reform. The 21 member economies account for more than 60 percent of global GDP with 39 percent of the world’s population. In 2016, APEC partners accounted for more than 84 percent of Canada's total merchandise trade. Foreign direct investment from APEC economies in Canada was $468 billion in 2016. Four of Canada’s top five trading partners are APEC members (U.S., China, Mexico and Japan).

More than 20 Government of Canada partner departments are engaged in APEC’s broad agenda ranging from customs procedures and regulatory reform to women’s economic empowerment, mental health and health industry ethics. In this regard, APEC serves a valuable role as an incubator of ideas and provides Canada with an opportunity to shape the Asia-Pacific region’s trade priorities. Global Affairs Canada coordinates Canada’s engagement at APEC.

Private Sector Engagement

Private-sector engagement is central to APEC's success. The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) represents the interests of business in APEC. ABAC is composed of up to three members from each of the 21 member economies, with business representatives appointed by APEC leaders. Collectively, they prepare an annual report with recommendations on how to improve the business and investment environment within the Asia-Pacific region. Canada’s representation on the ABAC helps advance Canadian business interests in the Asia-Pacific region. Canada is represented at ABAC by Ralph Lutes, Vice President of Teck Resources. The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada acts as ABAC’s Secretariat in Canada.

The annual APEC CEO Summit and regular APEC industry dialogues also provide opportunities for regional business leaders to interact with APEC leaders, global and regional institutions, and business leaders from across the Asia-Pacific for discussions on key issues facing the region.

APEC Working for Canadians

APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) is an intergovernmental forum dedicated to promoting free trade and investment, economic growth and development, and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. It operates on the basis of non-binding commitments and open dialogue.

Founded in 1989, APEC responds to growing interdependence among economies in the region. Its work has since expanded to address other key issues such as security, health, energy and agriculture.

Why is APEC important to Canada?

The APEC region encompasses countries critical to Canada's future economic prosperity and security interests. It remains the only trans-Pacific regional organization that hosts a leaders-level meeting at which Canada is present.

APEC brings together leaders, ministers, senior officials and business representatives, who meet regularly to drive the APEC agenda forward and implement policies and projects across a wide range of issues, from trade and investment facilitation to economic cooperation to counter-terrorism.

The breadth of APEC's agenda allows for a cross-disciplinary approach to issues, for example, "secure trade" (the economic impact of disruptions in the movement of people and goods).

APEC allows Canada to further engage in bilateral and multilateral discussions and negotiations in one of the world's largest economic zones, where many of our key trade partners are also members.

Since its inception in 1989, trade in goods and services between APEC economies have more than tripled.

Canada's role in APEC

To ensure that Canadian interests are taken into account within the APEC decision-making process, various Government of Canada departments are active in over 30 APEC working groups and committees.

APEC's activities have also expanded to include discussion of pressing security issues that involve political threats to economic prosperity and growth in the region. Through APEC, Canada will continue to engage key Asia-Pacific partners in countering terrorism, enhancing health, security and infectious disease strategies, and forming global approaches to international energy issues.

History and Membership of APEC

APEC was established in response to the growing interdependence among Asia-Pacific economies and to the need to advance Asia-Pacific economic dynamism and sense of community.

APEC began in 1989, when Australia hosted the first annual meeting of Foreign and Trade Ministers from 12 Asia-Pacific economies to discuss ways to increase cooperation in this fast-expanding region of the world. Canada was a founding member of the APEC forum, along with Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the United States.

In 1993, the United States held the first annual meeting of APEC Leaders to give trade liberalization and economic cooperation further impetus and high level commitment, to develop a spirit of community in the region and to promote sustainable growth and equitable development.

Between 1989 and 1993, APEC accepted six new members. In November 1991, three members were welcomed into the organization: the People's Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; and Chinese Taipei. In November 1993, APEC accepted Mexico and Papua New Guinea while deciding that Chile would become a full member in November 1994. Peru, Russia and Vietnam were the latest economies to join the organization in November 1998.

APEC now comprises 21 member economies:

  • Australia
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • United States
  • Vietnam
  • New Zealand

There are three official observers: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat, the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), and the Pacific Island Forum (PIF).

Date Modified: