Summary: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay undertook extensive trade reform at a time of crisis, at which time institutional reform was difficult to undertake. Many of the countries had become members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in the late 1980s and anticipated institutional reform. Only later did they reform trade policymaking institutions to bring them somewhat in line with trade policy regimes and GATT rules. These countries have all used reference prices and antidumping provisions of GATT, rather than safeguards, to provide relief from import surges. They have all tried to centralize trade policy by moving it from different agencies into a single agency. Despite liberalization, some sectors -- including automobiles, textiles and agriculture -- remain protected. Lessons the author draws from experience in these coutries: 1) the deteriorating macroeconomic situations are the main challenge to maintaining open trade policy; 2) trade policymaking must be constantly reviewed to prevent reversals, and the costs of protection must be communicated to the public at large; 3) There must be short-run measures to help domestic activities adjust to short-run price movements and alleviate pressure for protection. The danger -- such measures (unrelated to long-run price trends) can become permanent. 4) external commitments (through WTO or customs unions) can be used to discourage a return to protection; 5) extending reform (to labor and capital markets and the regulatory framework) will help maintain and extend trade liberalization. Allowing factors of production to move smoothly from one activity to another could help prevent the buildup of pressures that lead to protection; 6) an institution to consider exceptional protection should be advisory (independent of day-to-day trade policymaking), so that it works steadily, free from administrative pressures and exigencies. Requests for protection must be handled openly and transparently, with the findings subject to public scrutiny. Procedures for granting relief through safeguards and similar mechanisms must reflect all interests, including those of consumers, exporters, and users of the product; and 7) the analysis to establish injury must conform to high technical standards. The criteria to consider trade policies must reflect national interests, not those of any particular sector.
Official, scanned versions of documents (may include signatures, etc.)