Governments, Non-State Actors and Trade Policy-Making

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One of the most pressing issues confronting the multilateral trade system is the challenge posed by the rapid proliferation of preferential trade agreements. Plenty has been written about why governments might choose to negotiate preferentially or multilaterally, but until now it has been written almost exclusively from the perspective of governments. We know very little about how non-state actors view this issue of ‘forum choice', nor how they position themselves to influence choices by governments about whether to emphasize PTAs or the WTO. This book addresses that issue squarely through case studies of trade policy-making and forum choice in eight developing countries: Chile, Colombia, Mexico, South Africa, Kenya, Jordan, Indonesia and Thailand. The case studies are based on original research by the authors, including interviews with state and non-state actors involved in the trade policy-making process in the eight countries of this study.




The politicization of trade policy-making in Thailand is arguably more pronounced than elsewhere in the world, including at the global level where multilateral trade negotiations (MTNs) under the World Trade Organization (WTO) are currently stalled. Indeed, the Thai case of trade policy quagmire is quite dramatic for having adversely impinged on the country’s body politic to the extent that a popularly elected government was ousted in a military coup, and an anti-free trade agreement (FTA) bias worked its way into a new military-organized constitution, contributing to a prolonged and protracted political crisis. That Thai trade policy has become increasingly politicized over the first decade of the twenty-first century is attributable to a number of dynamics, some in parallel to trade policy experiences in the rest of the world, others more specific to domestic circumstances.


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