"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Consolidated Guidelines on Non-Member Participation in APEC Working Group Activities

[Place] Manila, Republic of the Philippines
[Date] November 23 , 1996
[Source] http://www.apecsec.org.sg/
[Full text]


It is understood that APEC Working Group (WG) activities are those activities approved by the APEC WGs and participated in by a large number of APEC members, including WG meetings, workshops, seminars, symposiums, training courses, etc.

In general, non-member economies, organisations and business/private sector representatives may apply and/or be invited to APEC WG activities subject to the following guidelines.

Categories of Participants

In general, APEC has only four categories of participants in its WG activities:

- Members (It is up to each member to decide whom to include in its own member delegation);

- APEC Secretariat;

- Observers [currently the Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN Secretariat), the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) and the South Pacific Forum (SPF)]; and

- Guests, which include all participants other than the three categories above.

Within the category of "guests" there are three sub-categories:

- non-member economies;

- other relevant regional/international organisations and bodies; and

- business/private sector representatives not included as part of member economy delegations.


1. It is important that on the one hand APEC neither gives the appearance of being a closed shop nor cuts itself off from useful contact with non-members, while on the other that it gives due weight to the need for consolidation and effectiveness.

2. The following principles should be used in considering any application/proposed invitation:

(a) non-member participation in any WG should be determined by the individual WG concerned by consensus, subject to approval by the Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM);

(b) each application/proposed invitation should be considered on its own merits;

(c) while geographic location should be given primary weight, consideration should be given to specific expertise or information which the applicant/invitee possesses;

(d) the WG must be satisfied that the applicant/invitee can make a significant contribution to the work of the Group; and

(e) participation in the WG must be clearly understood not to imply any tacit endorsement of future membership or observer status in other APEC activities.

3. This last principle is particularly important. There must be no linkage between participation in APEC WGs and any application for a full membership of APEC. In other words, participation in a WG is neither necessary nor sufficient for a successful application to become an APEC member.

Management (Procedures)

The participation by non-members should be managed as follows:

1. the APEC Secretariat in Singapore should act as the sole point of contact for non-members who wish to participate in APEC activities and for proposed invitations by APEC members;

2. once consensus has been reached in the WG concerned, the Lead Shepherd should seek covering approval from the Senior Officials of all member economies through the APEC Secretariat;

3. once the application/proposed invitation is approved, the terms of participation should then be conveyed to the guests in standard form by the APEC Secretariat;

4. guest status should be granted for the calendar year in which the application/proposed invitation is made and for the following two calendar years, with renewal of participation subject to the same procedure as a new application/proposed invitation;

5. for detailed procedures on processing an application or proposed invitation, see Annex; and

6. guest participation in one-off non-policy APEC activities such as symposia, workshops and seminars, including those organised by APEC forum other than WGs, and joint WG activities with other organisations can be approved by the relevant WG or forum by consensus on the delegated authority of the SOM. In such cases, the rules above do not apply.

Terms of Non-Member Participation

The following terms spell out the rights of participation by non-members in APEC Working Group meetings, and the supporting role of the Chair in controlling non-member participation in such meetings and ensuring that it conforms with all APEC procedures and requirements:

1. guests may be invited/allowed by the Chair to address a WG meeting on an agreed topic where this is relevant to the item under consideration and while the views may be taken into account by the WG, the guests cannot take part in the decision-making process;

2. guests may be invited by the Chair to respond to questions that arise in a WG meeting;

3. guests, with the agreement of the Chair, may be permitted to circulate documents on relevant subjects during APEC WG meetings;

4. guests should respect the confidentiality of the discussions of the meetings and the documents received;

5. guests and observers should be invited to leave the meeting room when the agenda of non-member participation is discussed; and

6. the Chair may also convene closed sessions of WG meetings excluding observers and guests.

It is further recommended that when non-members will be taking part in WG meetings, the Chair convene preparatory discussions, excluding guests, to arrive at a consensus among members present as to possible topics which the non-member participants may be invited by the Chair to address during the open session, and the type of information or documentation to be made available to participating non-members.

NOTE: Nothing in these terms changes the status of official observers - ASEAN Secretariat, PECC and SPF. Should these organisations send representatives to a WG or other APEC meeting, they have the same full access to documents and the information that they have at Senior Officials' Meetings and Ministerial Meetings.

These guidelines replace the "Guidelines, Rules and Procedures for Non-Member Participation in APEC Working Group Activitie" approved in November 1993 in Seattle and the "Proposal on Criteria and Principles on Non-Members' Participation in APEC Working Group Activities" approved in November 1995 in Osaka.



1. Applications/proposed invitations for all non-member participation in a WG should be forwarded to the APEC Secretariat for proper recording and transmission to the Lead Shepherd.

2. As soon as an application/proposed invitation is made in writing for non-member participation, the Lead Shepherd should immediately inform the Members of the WG, consulting their views.

3. When informing the WG Members, the Lead Shepherd might choose to offer views on whether or not the applicant/proposed invitee meets the principles adopted by APEC Ministers.

4. The Lead Shepherd should remind that the question posed is a "technical" one, i.e. to develop a view with regard to points 2c and 2d under the principles of the approved guidelines.

5. Replies may come in any form, including oral responses.

6. The Lead Shepherd should be left to ensure that consensus is sought on participation of non-members. The Lead Shepherd should determine, in consultation with the WG, whether silence constitutes consent or dissent. The agreed modalities should be communicated by the Lead Shepherd to the SOM.

7. A thirty-day time limit for response by the WG to the Secretariat should be encouraged.

8. The Lead Shepherd must, as soon as possible after the deadline, report through the Secretariat the results of the consultation to the Chair of the SOM for circulation to Senior Officials. If additional information is required from the applicant/proposed invitee, the Secretariat will seek such information at the same time the report is forwarded to the Chair.

9. In making a final consideration on the application/proposed invitation, Senior Officials will bear in mind both the broader context and the "technical" consultation as per paragraph 4 above.

10. A positive decision taken on an application/proposed invitation will be valid for the calendar year in which the application/invitation is made and for the following two calendar years. To renew such non-member participation, the same procedures as a new application/proposed invitation will apply.

11. Prior to a decision, when approached by any inquiries about the status of the application/proposed invitation, the Secretariat, Lead Shepherd or any member economy should respond with a standard formulation, "When a decision is made we will inform you."

12. WGs may establish their own set of specifications to guide them in the technical evaluation of applications/proposed invitations. These criteria, however, will have to be consistent with the overall guidelines for non-member participation in WGs as approved by Ministers.

13. WGs should advance decisions on non-member participation on an inter-sessional basis and SOM approval can also be attained on this basis.

14. When Senior Officials have reached a decision, the Secretariat will forward the decision to the non-member making application/being invited to participate. With reference to a positive decision, the Secretariat will forward a copy of the "Terms of Non-Member Participation" as well as the name and address of the Lead Shepherd who will be copied on all correspondence.