What Is the Asian Productivity Organization (APO)?

The Asian Productivity Organization (APO) is a union of 21 Asian countries headquartered in Tokyo that joined forces to promote socio-economic development in the region and among members. It was established May 11, 1961, as a regional, intergovernmental organization and is considered to be non-political, non-profit, and non-discriminatory.

The current members of the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) are as follows:

  • Bangladesh
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Fiji
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • The Republic of Korea
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • The Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Vietnam

Key Takeaways

  • The Asian Productivity Organization (APO) is a regional organization devoted to promoting greater productivity among countries in Asia and the Pacific.
  • The non-political, non-profit intergovernmental organization currently has 21 member states.
  • The APO carries out research and offers advice on how governments can utilize new technologies and promote sustainable development in the region.

How the Asian Productivity Organization Works

The Asian Productivity Organization’s (APO) primary goal is to facilitate economic and social progress and development in Asia and the Pacific. It aims to make its members more productive and competitive and sets out to achieve this by conducting research, offering advice, promoting sustainable (green) development, and encouraging members to share information and technology among themselves.

The Asian Productivity Organization functions as a think tank, conducting research to determine the needs of its members, and acts as a catalyst by promoting bilateral and multilateral alliances and collaboration among members, as well as with groups outside the APO's home region.

It operates as an advisor on economic and development matters, too, helping to create strategies for productivity and competitiveness for its members. The Asian Productivity Organization is an institution builder, providing promotion, training, and consultancy services to the public and private sectors to strengthen the National Productivity Organizations (NPOs) and other institutions. It is also a clearinghouse for productivity information, disseminating information on productivity among its members and other stakeholders.

The Asian Productivity Organization is composed of the governing body, the NPOs, and the secretariat, which is headed by a secretary-general. The secretariat has three departments: the administration and finance department, the research and planning department, the industry department, and the agriculture department.


Membership is open to any country that is already a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP).

History of the Asian Productivity Organization

In 1959, the first Asian round table productivity conference was held in Tokyo, Japan. An interim committee drafted a convention for the formation of an Asian productivity body. The Asian Productivity Organization was formally established in 1961, with eight founding members: the Republic of China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand.

In 1963, Hong Kong joined the APO. The Republic of Vietnam and Iran later joined in 1965, followed by Ceylon in 1966, Indonesia in 1968, Singapore in 1969, Bangladesh in 1982, Malaysia in 1983, Fiji in 1984, Mongolia in 1992, Vietnam in 1996, Lao PDR in 2002, and Cambodia in 2004.

Dr. AKP Mochtan became the secretary-general in 2019. He had previously served the APO in a number of positions.

Initiatives of the Asian Productivity Organization (APO)

According to its website, the Asian Productivity Organization has been hosting workshops to help members become more productive and competitive in their agricultural endeavors by taking advantage of technological breakthroughs. These include a variety of topics such as agricultural transformation. Its goal is to such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI).