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Queen's University School of Policy Studies1 Transparency and Participation in the National Trade Policy Process: the Canadian example Robert Wolfe Associate.

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Presentation on theme: "Queen's University School of Policy Studies1 Transparency and Participation in the National Trade Policy Process: the Canadian example Robert Wolfe Associate."— Presentation transcript:

1 Queen's University School of Policy Studies1 Transparency and Participation in the National Trade Policy Process: the Canadian example Robert Wolfe Associate Professor School of Policy Studies Queens University, Kingston, Canada

2 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 2 Is the Doha rhetoric enough? 10. … we are committed to making the WTO's operations more transparent, including through more effective and prompt dissemination of information, and to improve dialogue with the public. We shall therefore at the national and multilateral levels continue to promote a better public understanding of the WTO and to communicate the benefits of a liberal, rules- based multilateral trading system. And does Sutherland Chapter V miss the point? Information in Geneva VITAL legitimacy of WTO may not depend on organizations that pay most attention

3 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 3 Premises: Trade liberalization not the only objective: human agency, development as freedom (Sen) Participation at home contributes to sustainable development (Cosbey) by ensuring consideration of environment social cohesion and growth Transparency ensures accountability in a more diffuse policy process

4 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 4 Key dimensions for trade policy accurate, objective and timely information promotes transparency and accountability and enables citizens to participate in the public policy process. Consultation processes seek the views of individuals or groups on policies that affect them directly or in which they have a significant interest.

5 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 5 Some principles New legal texts must be congruent with the informal practices and mutual expectations of actors Officials cannot make up their countrys interests learn from citizens and firms engaged in trade as importers and exporters; producers and consumers. What problems do actors encounter? What new opportunities do they wish to pursue? Where are rules as codified in WTO discordant with daily practices in the trading system? How are market practices interfering with the aspirations of citizens? (WHOSE interests are reflected in policy?)

6 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 6 Transparency and the TPRM What if the TPRM asked more directly about domestic policy transparency and consultation mechanisms? Report itself a valuable source of information What might first report on Canada find? What lessons should we draw for the TPRM process?

7 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 7 Can TPRM do more? Canada 2003: The Government also consults regularly with the public to muster support for trade policy. Interested parties are invited to submit their views regarding specific WTO trade and investment-related issues thanks to a "Consultations with Canadians" website. yes

8 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 8 Canadian consultation industry growing for more than 20 years 1999 (est) 300 public consultations, from national climate change process to dialogue with rural Canadians about their priorities. Summer 2004, province of Ontario consulting its citizens on teacher workloads, mandatory retirement, rent control, urban sprawl, rural communities, drinking water, and new securities legislation

9 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 9 History of trade policy consultations GATT: tariffs seen as budget secrecy but industry lobbyists were consulted anyway Tokyo Round (1970s) requires consultation with provinces and business plus coordination of the federal public service on trade policy Canada-US FTA and Uruguay Round (1980s) move behind the border: changes demands for consultation WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle (1999) post-MAI extensive public participation in preparations and then attendance

10 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 10 The foundation Data is the essential factual basis for policy debate Statistics Canada is a leading statistical agency

11 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 11 Information on departmental website Discussion papers Briefings newsletters publication of legislation and regulations negotiating texts submissions to the WTO on disputes in which Canada is involved

12 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 12 Trade policy consultations Wide range of participants who can contribute useful information, and/or whose support will be needed. Other government departments, provinces, municipalities Broad and sectoral industry associations, civil society organizations, firms, academics Citizens Canadian mechanisms to engage all of them

13 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 13 Who should be consulted, and how? 1. Technical information can be sought by officials from experts or economic actors. 2. Exploring compromise on a difficult issue can be done in more broadly based multistakeholder settings where all sides are able to listen to contending points of view. 3. Trying to build a consensus might best be done in Parliamentary hearings.

14 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 14 Why are Canadian consultations so elaborate? 1.behind the border negotiators need domestic information; jurisdiction and authority widely dispersed; engage a wider public Consultations especially contribute to policy analysis when available expertise is limited. 2.Example: in agriculture and in services, diffuse not concentrated groups, and individuals, so new mechanisms needed 3.Growing trade interest of citizens and civil society organizationspublic concerns political not economic; governance not instrumental

15 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 15 Challenges? 1.Difficult work of detailed negotiations does not excite public interest, except from farm groups 2.Changing nature of consultations, or problem adapting mechanisms to new players involved 3.Cost of participation, for proponents and opponents of liberalized trade. Principles broadly agreed, in Canada. Contributing analysis takes money and/or expertise not available to all groups

16 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 16 Substantive questions for a TPRM Do consultations alter the way government perceives public interest or is policy still dominated by whoever has the ear of government? Are consultations used to help build consensus among stakeholders, narrowly or broadly defined? provide information to clarify negotiating objectives Do they help negotiators understand what citizens want? obtain information, for example on offensive interests and defensive concerns in the services negotiations

17 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 17 Process questions frequency of consultations resources allocated numbers of citizens involved participant satisfaction

18 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 18 Other process indicators Quality of statistics General WTO regulatory transparency Publication of laws and regulations Notification of new measures to trading partners Independent administration and adjudication Availability of negotiating proposals, dispute settlement submissions Opportunities to participate/comment

19 Queen's University School of Policy Studies 19 Risks of more in TPRM? Imagines governance relationships (between citizens and the state) typical in Canada but not necessarily elsewhere


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