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International Institutions and Trade Liberalization: What has been the role of international institutions in promoting trade liberalization, and how successful have they been?

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  1. Introduction
  2. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
  3. The IMF's description of itself
  4. The controversy surrounding the free trade debate
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

When we look at the issue of trade liberalization and we question which international institutions have promoted it, we must ask what exactly is an international institution. In the formal sense, they are seen as ?an organization established by multiple national governments, usually to administer a program or pursue a purpose that the governments have agreed upon.? (Deardoff, 2005) But in a more broad sense they can be understood as an organization or group with international ties or networks. If we were working with the former definition, we would include institutions such as the UN, IMF, GATT, G8 and OPEC. Working with the latter definition, however, we would have to include the aforementioned groups as well as supranational and regional organizations and areas, such as the European Common Market, NAFTA, and FTAOA as well as NGO's, public pressure groups and TNC's. For the purpose of this essay, I will use the category of ?international institutions' to characterize the first grouping of organizations, relying on Deardoff's definition and thus including the UN, IMF, GATT, G8, OPEC and so forth.

[...] ?Since the creation of the WTO in 1995 and the Ministerial Declaration on Coherence in Global Policy making, the International Financial Institutions (the World Bank and IMF) have consistently expanded their involvement in trade liberalization by influencing policies of borrowing countries through such measures as: conditioned lending; shaping the agenda and the goals of trade-related technical assistance and research; and ex ante mechanisms or instruments that tie lending to adoption of ?good policies' (Commonwealth Foundation, 2004) Many feel that this global regulation system has created a more stable and beneficial global structure. [...]

[...] Industrial countries' share of income from manufactured goods has grown from 73 percent to 77 percent between 1980 and 1999, even while their share of manufactured goods in world trade has fallen from more than 80 percent in 1980 to less than 70 percent in 1999.? (Commonwealth, Thus it is no surprise that a plethora of NGO's and public pressure groups are speaking out on this inequity and attempting to influence trade policies as well as counteract the efforts of the free trader advocates. [...]

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