Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Mains level : Read the attached story

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Central Idea

  • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Week is currently underway in San Francisco, bringing together leaders from the Asia-Pacific region to discuss pressing economic and trade issues.
  • Although India is not an APEC member, is participating at the forum.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): An Overview

  • Founding: APEC, established in 1989, is a regional economic forum aimed at promoting regional economic integration and greater prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. It consists of 21 member economies, termed “economies” due to their focus on trade and economic matters.
  • Member Economies: APEC’s member economies include Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong (as part of China), the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Peru, and Chile, strategically located around the Pacific Ocean.

APEC’s Role over the Years

  • Champion of Free Trade: APEC has consistently advocated for free trade, reduction of trade tariffs, and economic liberalization.
  • Seoul Declaration: The 1991 Seoul Declaration marked the establishment of a liberalized free trade area around the Pacific Rim as APEC’s primary objective.
  • Economic Impact: APEC initiatives have contributed significantly to the development of a growing middle class in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC economies, comprising 2.9 billion citizens, account for approximately 60 percent of global GDP and 48 percent of global trade as of 2018.

India’s Interest in APEC

  • Historical Interest: India expressed interest in joining APEC in 1991, coinciding with the initiation of economic reforms for liberalization and globalization.
  • Rationale: India’s interest in APEC is based on its geographical location, the potential size of its economy, and its trade interactions with the Asia-Pacific.
  • Challenges: APEC has maintained an informal moratorium on expanding membership, despite India’s interest. The US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region in 2015 welcomed India’s interest in joining APEC but no formal progress has been made.

Highlights of APEC Summit 2023

  • Biden-Xi Meeting: The meeting between US President Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping is a significant highlight. While it may not result in immediate changes in US-China relations, it reflects ongoing high-level engagements.
  • Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF): The summit will focus on progress related to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), initiated after the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Fourteen members, including Fiji and India, are part of the IPEF, with the rest being APEC members.


  • The APEC Summit 2023 brings together leaders from the Asia-Pacific region to address economic and trade issues, with the Biden-Xi meeting and discussions on the IPEF among the key highlights.
  • Despite India’s historical interest in APEC, membership expansion remains a challenge, underscoring the importance of regional economic forums in shaping global economic policies and partnerships.

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