“Trade for All”: the citizen consultation model on trade policy that inspires the Subrei

“Trade for development” is the participatory process that the Undersecretariat for International Economic Relations (Subrei) will promote in order to “give citizen legitimacy to our trade policy and thus long-term certainty to investors.” An idea that has been the subject of criticism from former authorities, actors in the sector and politicians.

The Foreign Ministry itself came out yesterday to reinforce that the consultation will not be binding, and stated that “it will contribute to strengthening decision-making processes” by incorporating large companies, SMEs, academics, experts and organized civil society.

Undersecretary José Miguel Ahumada and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonia Urrejola.

The ministry recalled that similar consultations have been implemented in the European Union, Canada and New Zealand -among others-, the latter being key, since the Subrei has been in contact with its peers in the country, who are available to share their experience, according to the entity led by José Miguel Ahumada.

“Trade for All” was the process implemented by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) between August and October 2018, months that coincide with the Subrei schedule in Chile this year. The initiative sought to “ensure that all New Zealanders benefit from trade,” and that trade policy helps the government achieve sustainable and inclusive economic development.

For the consultation, a website was created in which documents were published with questions to open the debate on seven topics: New Zealand and international trade rules, Free Trade Agreements, trade and sustainable development, trade and economic empowerment of women, Maori economy, regional economic development and SMEs.

Questions could be answered on the website, or mailed to the MFAT, and there was also an online survey. In addition, 15 public face-to-face meetings and eleven Maori-focused “hui” meetings were held in different cities. In Chile, the process will be online.

The use of trade to achieve sustainable development was an issue that emerged from the consultation process, and priority areas included ensuring that environmental standards are included in trade agreements, economic sustainability, water protection, climate change mitigation and the improvement of biodiversity.

The use of trade as a tool to improve social welfare was seen as an important driver for trade agreements, and there was general concern about market access and the impact of tariff and non-tariff barriers on New Zealand trade.

Based on the consultation, a Trade for All Advisory Council was formed, which delivered a report to the government that identified and discussed key issues, and made recommendations on the country’s trade policy. In Chile, the Subrei plans to do something similar in a so-called “second stage”.

What does the OECD say

In its article “Making Trade Work for All”, the OECD argues that trade policymaking needs to become a “more open conversation, where more people can discuss issues, assess pros and cons, and have a greater sense of ownership”. confidence that the concessions inherent in the agreements make sense”.

According to the multilateral organization, “an informed public debate can help build a better understanding of the role of trade in the economy.”

The entity is clear that “not everyone can be in the negotiating room”, and adds that “inclusion also has the risk of appropriation by the dominant pressure groups”. But, he argues that “everyone can have a better sense of the options at stake, and more opportunities to express their opinions about those options, to inform and be informed thanks to the debate.”

Leave a Reply