APEC was buffeted by the outbreak of the Asian financial crisis in 1998. Under the immediate influence of the financial crisis, APEC members were unable to launch the ‘early voluntary sectoral liberalisation’ (EVSL) initiative, for which they had negotiated throughout that year. This was counterproductive (because continued trade and investment liberalisation was necessary to underpin regional economic reform and recovery), and also dealt a blow to the global momentum then building towards new World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations. The failure of the EVSL diminished APEC’s credibility in constructing a relationship with the rest of the world with open regionalism as a conduit to the WTO. The Asian crisis also triggered rethinking in many Asian developing APEC members about their international strategies to promote development.