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Changing the terms of trade policy making: from the ‘club’ to the ‘multistakeholder’ model


In the light of the events surrounding the Seattle Ministerial in December 1999 and the fate of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, increasing attention is being paid not only to the substance of trade policy but to the processes through which it is effected. Growing realization of the need to enhance transparency and legitimacy in trade policy decision-making is reflected in debates on the openness of the multilateral processes most obviously represented by the World Trade Organization. Somewhat less attention has been paid to ways in which national trade policy processes are adapting to these pressures. The article argues the need to redress the balance and suggests that it is possible to analyse the development of at least some national trade policy environments in terms of a shift from a ‘club’, through an ‘adaptive club’ to a ‘multistakeholder’ model. These are examined with specific reference to the development of the latter in the Canadian and European Union contexts.

Corresponding author
Coventry Business School, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5FB. Tel: +44(0)247688 8177. Fax: 44(0)247688 8679. Email:
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The author gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance provided by a British Academy Research Grant and a Canadian Studies Research Grant in the preparation of this article. Thanks are also due to members of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, officials in DG Trade and representatives attending the EU DG Trade Civil Society Dialogue in Brussels. Several colleagues offered helpful advice, including Dominic Kelly and Steven McGuire, and I am grateful to the reviewers and members of the World Trade Review editorial board for their helpful suggestions.
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World Trade Review
  • ISSN: 1474-7456
  • EISSN: 1475-3138
  • URL: /core/journals/world-trade-review
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