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 emergence of democracy in Indonesia as a result of the economic crisis in the late 1990s has brought significant changes to the policy-making process in the country. The reform advocates who emerged following the downfall of the authoritarian Suharto regime saw liberalization and engagement with the global economy as key to advancing economic reform in Indonesia. While recognizing the importance of concluding the global trade negotiations under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Indonesia also remains committed to pursuing liberalization at the regional level through its membership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Recently, Indonesia has also engaged in bilateral preferential trade agreements (PTAs), in part due to the stalling of the Doha Round negotiations, but also because the pursuit of PTAs by Indonesia’s immediate neighbours has generated fear among government and economic actors about the possible loss of competitiveness in key export markets.


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