Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is an international forum composed of twenty-one member economies that have undertaken to act collectively to promote economic and technical cooperation within the Asia-Pacific region. Its purpose is ：to sustain the growth and development of the region for the common good of its peoples；. APEC builds on WTO General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) principles for the progressive liberalisation of trade in services through the reduction of regulatory restrictions, leading to reciprocal agreements between member economies where appropriate.
The APEC Architect project is an initiative of the APEC Human Resources Development Working Group (HRDWG), one of a number of sectoral groups established to implement APEC programs. The project was endorsed by the HRDWG at its year 2000 meeting in Brunei as a direct response to the Group・s strategic priority of facilitating mobility of qualified persons by developing a means for the mutual recognition of skills and qualifications.
A Steering Committee was formed by the APEC economies participating in the project to develop a mechanism by which current restrictions on the professional recognition of architects from other economies would be reduced or removed. Through the positive commitment of those involved, and fruitful negotiation in the intervening period, a set of principles and an operational framework for the creation of an APEC Architect Register has been agreed by all participants. Registration as an APEC Architect provides evidence of the achievement of professional standards that may satisfy some, or all, of the requirements for the recognition of architects by host APEC economies.
This Manual sets out the organisational structure of the APEC Architect framework and the rules and criteria that underpin its operation. The contents of the Manual are subject to continued scrutiny by the APEC Architect Central Council, which jointly manages the project, to ensure its currency and continued response to changes that develop in the practice of architecture. It is a document that will continue to evolve as it is tested, reviewed and amended as necessary.
The GATS identifies four modes of service provision, of which the third, ．establishment of a commercial presence・, and the fourth, ．the presence of natural persons・, are those that are essentially addressed by the APEC Architect framework. However the project will have relevance for all means by which architectural services are exported.
APEC is a cooperative association between regional economies; it is not bound by treaty. Although participating economies are guided by APEC objectives and the GATS principles that inform them, decisions taken by the Central Council are reached by consensus, they do not place a mandatory obligation on any economy.