17th APEC meeting

Singapore Infopedia

by Chan, Belinda


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.

Rights Statement

The information on this page and any images that appear here may be used for private research and study purposes only. They may not be copied, altered or amended in any way without first gaining the permission of the copyright holder.

More to Explore

Ministry of Trade and Industry


The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) encourages economic growth and creates employment so that Singaporeans can lead better lives. Its strategies are based on a free-market system and outward-oriented economic policies....

Speak Mandarin Campaign


The Speak Mandarin Campaign was launched on 7 September 1979 by the then prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. The campaign was initially started to simplify the language environment, improve communication among Chinese Singaporeans from the various dialect groups, and create a Mandarin-speaking environment in support of the national...

Merger with Malaysia


On 16 September 1963, Singapore merged with the Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo (present-day Sabah) to form the Federation of Malaysia. Since its exclusion from the Malayan Union in 1946, seeking a union with Malaya had been Singapore’s projected path to secure economic viability and achieve independence. However,...

Science Centre Singapore


The Singapore Science Centre opened its doors to the public on 10 December 1977, more than two decades after such a science centre was first envisaged. Built at the cost of S$20 million, the Science Centre was set up to promote interest and learning in science and technology to students...

Jannie Chan


Jannie Chan Siew Lee (Dato’ Dr) (b. 7 May 1945, Ipoh, Malaysia–), commonly known by her former matrimonial name, Jannie Tay, is the co-founder of luxury watch retail group, The Hour Glass. She was named one of the 50 winners of the inaugural Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World award...

S. Rajaratnam


Sinnathamby Rajaratnam (b. 25 February 1915, Jaffna, Sri Lanka–d. 22 February 2006, Singapore), better known as S. Rajaratnam, was a former journalist, co-founder of the People's Action Party (PAP), first minister for foreign affairs in post-independence Singapore, a member of parliament for the Kampong Glam constituency and former minister for...

James Joseph Puthucheary


James Joseph Puthucheary (b. circa 1922, Kerala, India–d. 3 April 2000, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia) was an economist, trade unionist and lawyer. He supported the People’s Action Party (PAP) in the 1955 Legislative Assembly general election but later broke away from them to join the Barisan Sosialis in 1961. He was...

Goh Eng Wah


Goh Eng Wah (b. 1923, Muar, Johor, Malaysia–d. 5 September 2015, Singapore) was one of the pioneers of Singapore's film industry. He founded Eng Wah Organisation (now known as Eng Wah Global) in 1946, a major film distributor and cinema operator in Singapore specialising in the screening of Chinese movies...

Gan Eng Seng


Gan Eng Seng alias Yen Hsi K’un (b. 1844, Malacca, Malaysia–d. 9 September 1899, Singapore) was a Chinese ethnic leader, labour contractor, and a landed proprietor of early Singapore who contributed considerably to charities as well as hospitals and schools. He was held in high esteem, particularly for his integrity,...

Rajabali Jumabhoy


Rajabali Jumabhoy (b. 16 January 1898 Lakhapur, Kutch, W. India - d. 26 November 1998 Singapore) was a prominent businessman and patriarch of the four-generation Jumabhoy family business that once owned Scotts Holdings. He was nicknamed "the Grand Old Man of Scott's"....