Trade Policy Begins at Home: Information and Consultation in the Trade Policy Process

PROCESS MATTERS: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND DOMESTIC TRADE TRANSPARENCY, Mark Halle& Robert Wolfe, eds., Winnipeg, 2009

19 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2009

See all articles by Jesse Helmer

Jesse Helmer

Queen's University - School of Policy Studies

Robert Wolfe

Queen's University - School of Policy Studies

Date Written: July 1, 2007

Abstract

Experienced trade negotiators know that their work begins at home in learning what matters for their constituents, and it ends at home in ensuring that any new obligations can be implemented in legislation. Consultations with citizens and economic actors are therefore a fundamental part of making good trade policy. The term "consultations" covers efforts to build support for policies and practices that help the government develop effective policies. Public education; dissemination of information to interested groups; broad public involvement in the policy process; and narrow solicitation of information from economic actors are all essential for making democratic trade policy that will be both legitimate and effective. This book contributes to a growing literature on the national trade policy process. We undertook to explore several related questions. How has the trade policy process of key WTO Members changed? Has it become more or less democratic? Does an open and transparent process lead to a different or more legitimate trade policy? Does it alter the way a government balances interests, or perceives the public interest? Or is policy still dominated by whoever has the ear of government? Do money, or concentrated votes, talk? Does any of this make a difference for sustainable development? We decided to explore these issues in case studies of the national trade policy process in six WTO Members from five continents (Table 1). The developed countries are all relatively small members of the OECD: Canada, a federal state with a dominant trading partner in NAFTA; Norway, a member of the European Free Trade Association; and the Netherlands, a member of the European Union. The three developing countries-Brazil, India and South Africa-are all significant players in the Doha Round of WTO negotiations and middle-income countries that dominate trade in their own regions. All six countries are robust democracies that participate in significant regional agreements that constrain their trade policy in some way. We expected to find similarities as well as differences in their approaches to the trade policy process.

Suggested Citation

Helmer, Jesse and Wolfe, Robert, Trade Policy Begins at Home: Information and Consultation in the Trade Policy Process (July 1, 2007). PROCESS MATTERS: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND DOMESTIC TRADE TRANSPARENCY, Mark Halle& Robert Wolfe, eds., Winnipeg, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1365111

Jesse Helmer

Queen's University - School of Policy Studies ( email )

Ontario K7L 3N6
Canada

Robert Wolfe (Contact Author)

Queen's University - School of Policy Studies ( email )

Ontario K7L 3N6
Canada

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