Policy Transparency – Why does it work? Who does it best?

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The Doha round of trade talks aimed at lowering barriers to trade has proved problematic. Deadlines have been missed and stalemates endured with talks suspended for a time. The talks are of special interest to Australia since global trade reform of agriculture, one of the most restrictive areas of world trade, would benefit Australian farmers and many others in the world.
The difficulties with the Doha talks, and of removing barriers to trade more generally, have their roots in the lack of public awareness of the benefits from removing trade barriers. So improving awareness of benefits is crucial to better trade outcomes.
This study demonstrates the importance of good domestic transparency of trade policy. But ‘transparency’ is not a well-understood concept. Also underappreciated is why transparency leads to better outcomes.
Yet there are valuable lessons to be learned from those countries that have good domestic transparency processes. Understanding what policy transparency is, why it works and who does it best will contribute to better transparency of trade policies and therefore better trade outcomes.

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