17th APEC meeting

Singapore hosted the 17th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting on 14 and 15 November 2009. The highlight was the presence at the meeting of United States President Barack Obama in his first official visit to Asia. The meeting saw the United States promise to increase its engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the regional grouping in which Singapore is a founding member.1

The two-day APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting was the finale of a series of events held from February to November 2009 during which more than 15,000 delegates from the 21 APEC member-economies attended about 123 meetings and events in Singapore.2

The background

APEC is an informal forum for the promotion of trade and growth between the member economies. The term “member economy” is used to describe “an official member of APEC” where participation is not by “sovereign countries but economies”.3 The APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting is the primary force behind APEC, during which the leaders of the member economies conside proposals and recommendations as well as set the policy agenda for APEC.4 In 1993, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting was formalised as a yearly practice by former US President Bill Clinton. Between 1989 and 1992, APEC had met informally as a “senior official and ministerial level dialogue”.5 The annual APEC meetings are hosted by member economies in rotation.6

Some highlights
The highlight of the 17th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Singapore was Obama’s first official visit to Asia as the President of the United States of America.7 The series of 2009 APEC meetings in Singapore was wrapped up at the 17th APEC Economics Leaders’ Meeting with plans for sustainable growth supported by innovation and a knowledge-based economy for the creation of jobs and opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.8

As part of the APEC tradition of a group photo session with each of the political leaders dressed “in a costume that reflects the culture of the host country”,9 the leaders at the Singapore forum wore “Peranakan-inspired outfits” created by award-winning Singapore designer Wykidd Song.10

The Singapore government had a budget of “just over S$100 million” to host the year-long APEC meetings.11 One of the expenses was for a fleet of 295 BMW 7 and 5 series cars with special “APEC Singapore 2009” licence plates for the use of the VIPs.12

Besides the business meetings and forums,  the social  events and programmes  were  opportunities for  the Singapore Tourism Board  to showcase  Singapore’s creative talents, multicultural diversity and local gastronomical cuisine.13

Belinda Chan

1. Velloor, R. (2009, November 16). Closer Asean-US ties with historic summit. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

2. Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore. (2010, January 7). Singapore – A proud host of APEC 2009. Retrieved from Ministry of Trade and Industry website: http://www.mti.gov.sg/MTIInsights/Pages/APEC.aspx
3. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. (2014). Glossary: Member Economy. Retrieved from APEC website: http://www.apec.org/Glossary.aspx
4. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. (2014). Glossary: AELM – APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting. Retrieved from APEC website: http://www.apec.org/Glossary.aspx
5. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. (2014). History. Retrieved from APEC website: http://www.apec.org/About-Us/About-APEC/History.aspx
6. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. (2014, February). Guidelines for hosting APEC meetings, p. 1. Retreived from APEC website: http://mddb.apec.org/Documents/2014/SOM/SOM1/14_som1_008.pdf
7. Lee, U.-W. (2009, November 12). Obama or not, CEO summit will be special: Organisers. The Business Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore. (2010, January 7). Singapore – A proud host of APEC 2009. Retrieved from Ministry of Trade and Industry website: http://www.mti.gov.sg/MTIInsights/Pages/APEC.aspx
9. SPH magazines. (2009, November). APEC at your fingertips. Retrieved from The Peak Singapore website: http://www.thepeakmagazine.com/sg/pursuit/nov2009
10. Wykidd Song creation for Apec leaders. (2009, October 29). The Business Times, p, 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Lee, U.-W. (2009, September 2). $100m budget for APEC meetings. The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. BMW cars for APEC meetings. (2009, July 13). The Business Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Chan, B. (2009, October 22). Entertaining Obama. The Straits Times, p. 72. Retreived from NewspaperSG.

The information in this article is valid as at 3 April 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.