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A more honest dialogue about the WTO Getting People to Listen Hearing their concerns Making the Public the WTO’s Trade Partner Some thoughts about our dysfunctional dialogue about trade and trade agreements Not a problem of procedural transparency, but a problem of transparency of purpose.

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Making the public the wto s trade partner l.jpg

A more honest dialogue about the WTO

Getting People to Listen

Hearing their concerns

Making the Public the WTO’s Trade Partner

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


Some thoughts about our dysfunctional dialogue about trade and trade agreements l.jpg

Some thoughts about our dysfunctional dialogue about trade and trade agreements

Not a problem of procedural transparency, but a problem of transparency of purpose.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


What i ve learned running in my wto tee shirt l.jpg
What I’ve learned running in my WTO tee shirt and trade agreements

  • Wherever I run in my WTO tee shirt, it stimulates a discussion about many topics:

  • child labor

  • A world run by multinational corporations.

  • Trade with nations that don’t protect human rights or the environment.

  • The WTO is an undemocratic opaque global bureaucracy

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


Why is the wto so misunderstood l.jpg
Why is the WTO so misunderstood? and trade agreements

  • WTO and GATT designed to be removed from national politics.

  • Yet dependent on national policymakers to explain what WTO is and what it does.

  • National policymakers make economic (efficiency) arguments for trade, say little about equity and governance.

  • Institutions can not long endure without public support

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


The most misunderstood international institution l.jpg
The most misunderstood international institution and trade agreements

  • bulk of public is apathetic.

  • concerned interest groups perceive WTO as undemocratic, unfair, and opaque.

  • WTO now does a relatively good job of outreach to NGO’s

  • Lousy job of outreach to citizens around the world.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


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National Policymakers bear responsibility Supply side of policy(1)

  • Have not adequately communicated what trade agreements do

  • Have not communicated difference between benefits of trade and costs/benefits of trade agreements

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


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Policymakers bear responsibility (2) policy(1)

  • Secrecy of negotiators during trade talks increases public concern.

  • Yet policymakers must negotiate behind closed doors.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


Policymakers bear responsibility us as a case study 3 l.jpg
Policymakers Bear Responsibility US as a case study (3) policy(1)

  • Trade agreements are America’s main tool to govern globalization, which is frightening to many Americans.

  • To address fears, policymakers must promote a different discussion about trade agreements

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


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Policymakers Bear Responsibility US as a case study (4) policy(1)

  • Trade policies and agreements increasingly affect the achievement of other important policy goals, from protecting public health to ensuring stable foreign relations with nations such as Pakistan.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


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Policymakers Bear Responsibility US as a case study (5) policy(1)

  • Ironically, at the same time, US uses trade policy to achieve too many policy goals: e.g.

  • ensuring cheap drugs for elderly

  • to sustain sugar farmers and steel producers,

  • and to punish rogue nations.

    This foments confusion about trade and undermines support for trade agreements.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


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Why does US use trade policy to do too much? policy(1)

  • Off budget

  • Can use leverage of huge US market to prod changes in trading partners.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


Problem how to talk about the wto so people will listen l.jpg
Problem: How to talk about the WTO so people will listen policy(1)

  • Difficult to get public to focus on trade policy when people can barely juggle work and family life.

  • Most schools don’t teach economics or civics

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


Getting people to listen l.jpg
Getting people to listen policy(1)

  • Be honest about how trade relates to peoples daily lives. Discuss-

  • How citizens benefit/lose from trade?

  • What trade agreements do?

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


How does trade affect people in their daily lives l.jpg
How does trade affect people in their daily lives policy(1)

  • Every hour of every day, people see, smell taste, touch, and hear traded goods and services.

  • Trade in these goods goods and services affect individuals differently as consumers, producers, taxpayers, friends of the earth and citizens.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


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Knowledge is power (to use a cliché) policy(1)

  • One can simultaneously be a winner or loser from trade as a consumer, producer, taxpayer, etc..

  • Nonetheless, by understanding how trade affects them, people are empowered.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


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Be honest about what trade agreements such as the WTO do policy(1)

  • Trade agreements regulate how trading entities may trade and how and when nations may protect.

  • They are one of many tools policymakers use to regulate global markets.

  • Citizens need regulations because global markets, like domestic markets, fail.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


Be honest about costs and benefits of trade agreements l.jpg
Be honest about costs and benefits of trade agreements policy(1)

  • Like domestic regulations, trade agreements are often imperfect and incomplete and come with costs to producers/consumers.

  • Trade negotiations are an opportunity to discuss trade and tinker with trade agreements.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


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Language is inexact policy(1)

  • WTO proponents talk about “freeing trade” but there is no such thing as free trade. No government allows free trade. Trade agreements regulate markets to create freer trade.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


Trade agreement critics are also l.jpg
Trade agreement critics are also policy(1)

  • inexact…but deserve fuller responses…do trade agreements undermine human rights, the environment, national morees?

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


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Gap between rhetoric and reality undermines WTO policy(1)

  • But people have a right to know.

  • At the same time, citizens should do more to understand trade agreements and to influence national and international trade policymakers.

  • Policy in the global village should be a two way street.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


Conclusion l.jpg
Conclusion policy(1)

  • WTO is only 57 years old…Policymakers are still learning how to make it work effectively, efficiently, equitably…

  • To succeed over time, WTO must learn to work with citizens as well as concerned NGOs, business leaders, and national policymakers.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without Perm[email protected]


Trade and human rights partnership project l.jpg
Trade and Human Rights Partnership Project policy(1)

  • Helping policymakers and the public gain a better understanding of how human rights and trade policies intersect.

c) S.Aaronson, Kenan Institute, Not to be Used or Attributed Without [email protected]


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