APEC: The $17 Trillion Economic Coop

Despite The Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) consisting of 21 of world’s preeminent economic powers–including the U.S.–public awareness of the organization is still sparse. So what exactly is APEC, and why should you care?

Below is a rundown on just what you should know about this global economic organization, and their annual meeting.

What is APEC?

Since its inception, APEC’s mission statement has been centered around the fostering of amicable economic and political relations between the world powers surrounding the Pacific Rim.

Borne from Asian-Pacific countries’ rise to economic importance in the 1980’s, the annual conference is used as a forum for world powers to discuss the future goals and initiatives in relation to countries in the surrounding Asian-Pacific region.


  • Currently there are 21 different countries involved

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What does APEC do?

The group, though comprised of some of the world’s most important economic powers–especially in regard to the U.S. economy–is still non-binding. This means that APEC has no legislative or political arm of enforcement. Authority aside, the organization is still seen as crucial to the economic and political relations between Asian-Pacific countries and their partners.

APEC is often used as a forum to discuss political issues as well as economic ones. For instance, in previous forums, tensions in the South China Sea were addressed by both the U.S., Japan, and China.

In terms of enforcing economic or political policy, the organization is essentially a non-factor. Political and economic relations however, may benefit greatly from APEC’s open forum.

Why is APEC important?

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APEC and its economic members encompass a hugely important consumer market and therefore trillions of dollars in trade.

Here are some key facts about the economies which make up the organization:

  • APEC countries account for 2.7 billion consumers worldwide
  • The economies account for 44 percent of global trade or $16.8 trillion
  • The economies also account for 56 percent of economic output–$39 trillion.

APEC’s global economic importance is also mirrored by its relevancy to the U.S. market, especially when it comes to the policy and expansion surrounding U.S. goods.

  • Since APEC’s genesis, tariffs have fallen from 16 percent to 5 percent
  • Six of America’s top ten trading partners belong to the organization
  • The latest stats show that members purchased 61 percent of U.S. total good exports
  • Member countries account for 37 percent of U.S. private service exports which supports over 6 million jobs

The Takeaway

  • The countries that belong to the organization are crucially important to facilitating the sustainable growth and well-being of the U.S. economy
  • The countries involved are some of the most financially prominent in the world
  • APEC, though beneficial to discourse, is non-binding

Cover photo from Wikimedia Commons modified by Curiousmatic 

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