On November 13th and 14th, the leaders of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, or APEC, will meet in Yokohama, Japan. This year's theme is "change and action."
These member economies today encompass 40 percent of the world's population, represent 55 percent of overall global economic output, 43 percent of the world trade and 60 percent of global economic growth. In other words, they are some of the world's largest and most active economies.
APEC was founded in 1989 by 12 Pacific member economies, including the U.S., to counter a trend toward isolationist regional economic pacts that stifled free trade and limited growth, and designed to address what then-Secretary of State James Baker called a "line drawn down the middle of the Pacific" separating the American countries from their Asian counterparts. APEC's purpose is to foster growth and prosperity by facilitating economic cooperation and expanding trade and investment throughout the region.
Applauding the host economy, Japan's agenda to channel the discussion toward trade liberalization and specific efforts to increase business investment in small and medium enterprises, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the U.S. sees this meeting "as a pivotal moment in which APEC can revitalize its mission and embrace a 21st century economic agenda. "Our aim," she said, "is to help APEC evolve into an important, results-oriented forum for driving shared and inclusive, sustainable economic progress."
Working through APEC, the United States hopes to help create jobs and economic growth by addressing a wide range of economic issues critical to long-term prosperity. For example, by eliminating barriers to trade and investment and creating better business environments, the U.S. hopes to build a level economic playing field in the region that will help all member economies compete and succeed. As well, the U.S. is working within APEC to protect the environment and ensure that long-term growth is more sustainable. The U.S. promotes economic systems and rules that foster innovation and provide widespread benefits to society.
"We have reached one of those rare inflection points in history where we have the opportunity to take a different path — to pursue a new strategy for jobs and growth," said U.S. President Barack Obama. "And I believe the economies of this region have a leading role to play in getting us there."