Group of Friends on Disability

According to the International Labor Organization, there are 370 million persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region, 238 million of whom are of working age. Individuals with disabilities possess the skills and talent to support themselves through meaningful employment and to make important contributions to their economies.

A high-level meeting on “Equal Access, Inclusive Development” was held during the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Beijing, November 2014, where a Joint Initiative on Equal Access and Inclusive Development for Persons with Disabilities was introduced.

An open-ended “Group of Friends on Disability Issues” (GOFD) was formed to seek common ground, share experiences and identify ways to bring about inclusive developments to the benefit of persons with disabilities. There were six founding members—Australia, China, Hong Kong, China, Mexico, the Philippines and the United States—who were later joined by Russia and Chile.

The initiative took a significant step forward during the 2nd APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings held in Boracay Island, Philippines, in May 2015. A concept paper on promoting disability-inclusive development in the Asia-Pacific Region was submitted by China, co-sponsored by Australia, Malaysia, Peru, and the United States. It was discussed and adopted by the SOM Steering Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (SCE) and by senior officials.

The paper agreed to establish the “APEC Group of Friends on Disability” (hereinafter referred to as “APEC GOFD”) under the SCE. Thus, the GOFD, and the issue of disability and economy, was officially incorporated into the APEC framework.

The APEC GOFD aims to provide a streamlined and effective mechanism to advance the participation of persons with disabilities in the economy and to achieve disability-inclusive development through coordination with all member economies and across sectors.

Through the sharing of information and resources such as collection of data on disability, laws and practices for comprehensive inclusion of persons with disabilities from member economy governments, businesses, NGOs, DPOs, civil society organizations and other relevant stakeholders the APEC GOFD will serve as a resource and voice within APEC and other relevant bodies for pragmatic cooperation among APEC economies and across APEC working group.

Last page update: September 2018

Current Activities

  • The 4th Meeting of APEC Group of Friends on Disability in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (19 May 2018)
  • Internet and Training Program for Persons with Disabilities in Hainan Province, China (12–18 November 2018)


Contact Us


1st Vice Chair



Mr PHAM Hoang Tung

Program Director