The idea of a trans-Pacific institution created along the lines of the Parisbased Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is almost as old as the OECD itself. The Pacific Trade and Development Conferences, which bring together economists from around the Asia-Pacific, discussed proposals for a trans-Pacific intergovernmental forum from the time of the first meeting in 1968. This idea took form in Peter Drysdale's proposed “Organization for Pacific Trade and Development”, which drew on some elements of the OECD while underscoring that the European model was only partly applicable to the Pacific. In 1978, U.S. Senator John Glenn, as chairman of the Senate's Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, commissioned a paper entitled “Evaluation of a Proposed Asian-Pacific Regional Economic Organization.” On the eve of APEC's creation in 1989, Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke also proposed an institution which would “develop a capacity for analysis and consultation on economic and social issues, not as an academic exercise, but to help inform policy development by our respective governments.” The so-called Hawke Initiative made direct reference to the OECD as a model, albeit recognizing that the Parisbased organization operated within a very different context.
The founding members of APEC did not, however, subscribe to Hawke's vision, and the trans-Pacific forum that was created instead adopted a distinctly anti-institutional character. By 1994, with the announcement of the Bogor targets, the focus in APEC was clearly on “free and open trade” (by 2010 for developed member economies, with an additional ten years for developing member economies to achieve the same). The means for achieving the Bogor targets were “open regionalism” and “concerted unilateral liberalization” — a process of voluntary tariff reduction through enlightened dialogue among APEC members, and the extension of these market-opening measures to non-members without a call for reciprocal actions. In 2002, at the half-way mark to the first Bogor milestone, APEC's trade liberalization agenda was sidelined by the rise of bilateral free-trade agreements among APEC members, proposals for Asia-only regional integration, continued momentum towards a Free Trade Area of the Americas (which would include five APEC members), and the launch of a new multilateral trade round.