ASEAN Handicraft Promotion and Development Association (AHPADA) was found as a result of a Workshop on Handicraft for Export held as part of CONEX’81 which was hosted by the
Royal Thai Government in February 1981 in Bangkok. AHPADA was formally inaugurated in Jakarta, Indonesia in March that year as a forum for both the government and private sectors concerned to meet and complementing each other in the promotion and development of handicrafts activities.
AHPADA is a non-governmental organization (NGO) and non-profit making association that was accepted at the 16th ASEAN Standing Committee in Bangkok for affiliation with ASEAN on 24 August 1982. It is listed No.13 on the 2005 official list of 58 ASEAN NGOs (Website http://www.aseansec.org/6070-2p.htm). ASEAN is based on three principles, Economic, Social and Cultural Co-operation. AHPADA is the only ASEAN related NGO focusing on Cultural Co-operation. Its overall object is to take a common approach to develop, promote and market crafts within and outside the ASEAN region and to strengthen and improve the status of craftspeople, employment opportunities and to preserve traditional craft skills within the context of conservation of cultural heritage. Its Regional Office is located in Bangkok, Thailand.
Being a non-profit organization AHPADA was formally registered as an association in Thailand on 25 March 2006 to facilitate disbursement of fundings of aid donors both from the Government and Private Sectors to support its activities in accordance to its objective.
The founding members were Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. Singapore and Brunei Darussalam joined in a little later. Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam joined in September 1999. The presidency rotated among the ASEAN countries whose representatives were ready to take on the responsibility on an alphabetical order. Thailand by
Mrs. Surapee Rojanavongse was first President of AHPADA from 1981-1988 and again in 1999-2000 and remains active Board Member as Honorary President to date.