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Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum for the economies of the 21 countries that comprise the Pacific Rim. Its primary objective is to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region.


It was founded in 1989 as a response to growing interdependence in the Asia-Pacific region and the formation of newer regional trade blocs.


The body constituted 12 founding members till 1989, later the membership increased to 21 member states in 1998.





Objectives


  • Its objectives are to raise living standards and educational attainment through sustained economic growth.


  • To foster a sense of community and mutual understanding among Asia-Pacific countries.


Although free trade was a contentious issue for developing NIEs when APEC was founded, it aims to enable ASEAN economies to explore new export markets for natural resources such as natural gas and to pursue regional economic integration (industrial integration) through foreign direct investment.


Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) currently has twenty-one members. Because the APEC cooperative process is primarily concerned with trade and economic issues, and members interact as economic entities, APEC members are referred to as "economies."


APEC's Three Pillars


  • APEC and Trade Liberalisation

  • APEC'S Business Facilitation Efforts: Proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.

  • APEC Study Center Consortium


Annual Meetings and Economic Leaders


The heads of government from all APEC members except Taiwan attend the annual APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting (Taiwan is represented by a ministerial-level official under the name Chinese Taipei as economic leader) The location is determined by a rotation policy and rotates annually among the member economies.


Since 1993, APEC has held an annual Economic Leaders' Meeting. In 2020, the APEC held its first-ever virtual Economic Leaders' Meeting and issued the Kuala Lumpur Declaration in response to the pandemic.


The 27th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting officially launched the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040. It envisions balanced growth, prosperity, and an Asia-Pacific region that is peaceful.

APEC Economies



Countries

Joined on

Australia

1989

Canada

1989

Japan

1989

Malaysia

1989

Philippines

1989

USA

1989

Thailand

1989

Singapore

1989

Brunei Darussalam

1989

Indonesia

1989

South Korea

1989

New Zealand

1989

Hongkong

1991

China

1991

Chinese Taipei

1991

Mexico

1993

Papua New Guinea

1993

Chile

1994

Russia

1998

Peru

1998

Vietnam

1998




India And APEC


India is one of the leading countries which has striven hard to become a member of APEC. Apart from SAARC, India is the only major country yet to join a regional free trading club.


The general perception outside is that the Indian economy is still mired in bureaucratic red tape. Unless India urgently undertakes measures, which prove that the changes it has made are irreversible and improve its image, it may again miss the Asia Pacific bus.


The importance of India's membership of APEC today is not as vital as it would have been in 1997 because, during that time, India wanted to legitimise its self-declared Look East' Policy and new economic policy.


For China, APEC is an organisation, which enables its leaders to participate in AP summit meetings and thrash out political differences and problems with other members. It has also successfully pushed through concerns about APEC and its long-term objectives.


Conclusion


APEC has retained its significance as a forum. It promotes cooperation and advancement among member nations and aims to improve people's living standards. Additionally, it has listened to the concerns of observer states and opened membership to them. India, like other countries, wishes to be a part of this significant trade bloc.


APEC member has been considered as an investment destination due to their higher economic growth and investors' confidence in the return on investment.


One way to accelerate India's economic reforms would be for it to join APEC and adhere to the group's decisions.


India is already an ASEAN Dialogue Partner and a member of ASEAN's regional security forum, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), demonstrating that India as significant power cannot be ignored. Additionally, the majority of the top investors in India over the last few years have been APEC member countries, which have already established themselves as India's most important trading partners.


Thus, India, along with other nations, is a strong candidate for membership, and APEC cannot afford to ignore India in the coming years.


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