San Francisco, 14 November 2023 (TDI): This week, for the first time since 2011, the United States is playing host to the annual APEC summit, where leaders from the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group will convene in San Francisco. The agenda is focused on enhancing trade and economic growth across the Pacific region.

However, the spotlight of the summit will be a sideline event: a one-on-one meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The conference is taking place amidst a tense atmosphere due to the strained relations between China and the United States, as well as the global unrest caused by the Israel-Hamas conflict and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

What is the Role of APEC?

APEC plays a crucial role in facilitating the seamless movement of goods, services, investment, and people across borders. This is achieved through expedited customs procedures at borders, fostering a more conducive business environment within the border, and harmonizing regulations and standards across the region.

For instance, APEC’s efforts to align regulatory systems are instrumental in integrating the Asia-Pacific economy. This means that a product can be exported more easily with a single set of shared standards across all economies.

The 21 economies that are members of APEC include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong(China), Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States of America, and Viet Nam.

Also Read: China Premiers to meet on sidelines of APEC Summit

APEC: A Forum for Collaboration and Consensus

APEC functions as a collaborative, multilateral forum for economic and trade discussions. Members engage in open dialogue, respecting all participants’ perspectives. In APEC, every economy has an equal voice, and decisions are made through consensus.

There are no obligatory commitments or treaty obligations. All commitments are voluntary, and capacity-building projects assist members in implementing APEC initiatives.

APEC’s structure employs both a “bottom-up” and “top-down” methodology. Four primary committees and their respective working groups offer strategic policy suggestions to APEC leaders and ministers, who annually establish the vision for overarching objectives and initiatives.

The working groups are then assigned to implement these initiatives through various APEC-funded projects. Members also undertake individual and collective actions to execute APEC initiatives in their individual economies, aided by APEC capacity-building projects.