Transparency in International Economic Relations and the Role of the WTO
Research Handbook on Transparency, ed. Padideh Ala'i & Robert Vaughn at American University Washington College of Law (Edward Elgar, 2014)
34 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2014 Last revised: 13 Nov 2014
Date Written: April 1, 2014
The chapter describes the evolution of transparency obligations within the multilateral trading system. Beginning as obligations that were ancillary and subsidiary to the substantive provisions of market access and non-discrimination under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1947), transparency obligations became central and substantive obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO). The transparency obligations of the WTO have had a profound impact on the internal governance of Member States in three key ways. First, transparency has facilitated trade disputes by identifying measures whose application and administration are inconsistent with the provisions of the covered agreements. Second, transparency has promoted the power of the central governments within Member States over local and provincial governments. Last, transparency requires uniformity in administration of measures within and among states to the extent possible. In conclusion, the authors ask whether transparency, in the context of the WTO, has any goal broader than that of protecting and promoting the interests of private traders, and whether increased litigation, increasing centralization and increasing uniformity promoted in the name of transparency also contribute to broader goals of good governance or development.
Keywords: transparency; WTO; international economic relations; good governance and development; WTO and internal governance; uniformity
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