chapter  28
14 Pages

APEC: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

ByNick Bisley

APEC is an intriguing organization. It is difficult to think of another regional institution that has gone from the enthusiasm of creation to the disillusionment of stagnation quite so rapidly. Within years of its first meeting, in November 1989, APEC was being described by journalists as little more than a ‘photo opportunity’ or a ‘talk shop’ (The Economist and Far Eastern Economic Review have been particularly critical), and after barely a decade, serious and generally sympathetic scholars thought it had gone badly adrift (Ravenhill 2000) and was suffering from a midlife crisis (Wesley 2001). Of course, other regional entities have their share of frustrations, but rarely has this come about so quickly. Even its name is a source of some consternation. Famously described as ‘four adjectives in search of a noun’ by Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, the witticism that APEC really stands for a perfect excuse to chat makes clear it lacks a focus point. Many scholars and analysts add ‘forum’ to the acronym to try to convey the grouping’s basic essence.