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Did the protectionist dog bark? Transparency, accountability, and the WTO during the global financial crisis

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Did the protectionist dog bark? Transparency, accountability, and the WTO during the global financial crisis

Leaders of the G20 promised repeatedly that they would refrain from trade restrictions in response to the global financial crisis that began in 2008, and that they would minimize the negative impact on trade and investment of stimulus measures.

They also promised to hold themselves accountable for this commitment using a novel transparency mechanism based in the World Trade Organization (WTO). At the same time, the Global Trade Alert (GTA) set itself up as an alternative accountability mechanism. A detailed comparison of GTA and WTO data on the number of measures each found, and of their ability to offer robust interpretations of the measures, allows both a check on the official story, and a consideration of how transparency can help to close the gap between commitment and action, thereby contributing to accountable global governance.

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