Skip to Content


(l-r) Jackson Robinson, Rob Cain, Katherine West, David Cousar and Mary Bradley Pazdan
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea


The 2020 APEC Voices of the Future program will not be taking place due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, and health and safety guidelines. New Zealand, the 2021 APEC host, is working through the details of running the yearlong program virtually.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), established in 1989, is an organization comprised of twenty-one member economies from Asia and the Pacific Rim. APEC's mission is to gather its twenty-one member economies together annually to discuss three main pillars: trade and investment liberalization; business facilitation; and economic and technical cooperation. Meetings, hosted by one of the twenty-one economies, focus on the accomplishment of the Bogor Goals—free and open trade, and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. For additional background information on the APEC Voices of the Future program, click here. To view the Bogor Goals, click here. The Bogor Goals are one of APEC’s flagship initiatives.

Students and educators from Mexico, the United States and other APEC member economies are invited to participate in APEC meetings through the program, “Voices of the Future for APEC.” To date, Furman students are the only U.S. undergraduates invited to the yearly gathering with the Pacific Rim government and business leaders. If you would like to see "Where Past APEC Students are Today," click here.

For a glimpse of the "Voices of the Future" experience APEC 2014 China video

The Virtual Trade Mission Foundation (VTM), located in Washington D.C., has played a prominent role in the annual APEC conference since 1996. VTM’s focus is to foster education and communication among students, educators, business leaders and the media on the United States’ involvement in the “New Global Economy.” Through VTM, the “Voices of the Future for APEC” program was implemented. VTM invites students from APEC member economies to participate in the annual APEC CEO Summit and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meetings. Students conduct interviews, tour trading facilities, and interact with one another, realizing VTM's purpose is to expose students to a variety of cultures as well as to create knowledgeable “citizen diplomats” from the APEC economies.

The APEC CEO Summit is a prestigious annual event that provides opportunities for representatives of ABAC and other senior business leaders from the Asia-Pacific region as well as students to hear from APEC Heads of State and other high officials such as economists, policy makers and other business leaders about relevant economic and trade issues.

The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) was created by the APEC Economic Leaders in November 1995 to provide advice on the implementation of the Osaka Action Agenda and on other specific business sector priorities, and to respond when the various APEC fora request information about business-related issues or to provide the business perspective on specific areas of cooperation.

The “Voices of the Future for APEC” strives to give students the opportunity to interact with their peers of different cultures from the member economies, while also providing students the opportunity to interview APEC and CEO business leaders, and ABAC representatives.

During the week, students from different member economies live with one another and participate in group and individual activities that encourage the sharing of cultures and knowledge of each person’s economy. An international "Cultural Night" is also scheduled at the beginning of the week, and students present skits and presentations reflecting traditions unique to their economy. Students also bring gifts to exchange among the member economies.

The students, within their assigned groups, travel throughout the city, participate in interviews at the CEO summit and APEC meeting venues, and gather material reflecting what they have learned from their experiences.

Through Richard W. Riley’s efforts to promote awareness of international affairs and international involvement, the Riley Institute, in partnership with the Virtual Trade Mission, sent Furman students and faculty members to the APEC meeting held in Los Cabos, Mexico in 2002; Santiago, Chile in 2004; Busan, South Korea in 2005; Hanoi, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam in 2006; Sydney, Australia in 2007; Lima, Peru in 2008; Singapore in 2009; Yokohama, Japan in 2010; Honolulu, Hawaii in 2011; Bali, Indonesia in 2013; Beijing, China in 2014; Manila, Philippines in 2015; Lima, Peru in 2016, Da Nang, Vietnam in 2017 and Papua New Guinea in 2018. Travel is funded, in part, by an endowment from the John I. Smith Foundation.