Hi-Taek Shin

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As the global economic crisis deepens, even the governments of major market economies are susceptible to domestic political pressures to adopt protectionist trade policies. In a speech given at the University of California, Berkeley in October 2008, Pascal Lamy, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), stated that restoring citizens' confidence in international trade requires governments to ensure that sound domestic policies are in place. The domestic decisionmaking process must be capable of synthesizing diverse and occasionally conflicting points of view into solid domestic policies. Issues related to free trade are no longer centered on the loss of jobs and the undermining of domestic industries. Contemporary issues include public health and safety concerns that affect the broader community, not merely a subset of the population. Now that ordinary citizens and civil society groups are able to disseminate and receive information instantly through the internet, they are increasingly capable of shaping international trade issues and influencing public opinions and government policy. A sound domestic decisionmaking process relating to international trade must consider all of these factors, adding to the complexity of the balancing process.

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