This is a study of competing visions or designs of trans-Pacific economic cooperation, and attempts to unify, or retain, the differences that have evolved, in the organization and objectives of the multilateral Asia — Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. This analysis also demonstrates the challenges faced by groups of countries with very different political-economy structures and values as they attempt to constitute an arrangement to gain trade advantages. Differences over how best to reach APEC's goals of trade liberalization, the extent to which APEC should be institutionalized, and the items to be put on the agenda of the annual conferences are at times so deep that the effective functioning of the forum itself gets questioned. There has been no shortage of meetings or reports within APEC, except that they typically lead to extremely few concrete proposals that all parties could agree on to implement and evaluate together, and even fewer results. The contention in designing alternative visions for APEC may be seen as a reflection of opposing interests on liberalization and institutionalization within the forum between the United States, developed or industrialized countries and open export-oriented market economies on the one hand, and China and developing or industrializing countries on the other hand, with Japan having moved from the predominantly “Western” “camp” to the mostly “Asian” one. Fundamentally, while adherents of the “Western” design would like to promote economic competition and perpetuate the advantages that they enjoy with trade and investment liberalization, advocates of the “Asian” vision still believe to some extent in preserving the business-political nexus and industrial policies that have brought a respectable measure of political stability, material prosperity and diplomatic influence to countries like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. These two roadmaps reflect differences of interest and value, and are not easily reconcilable.