chapter  3
17 Pages

Does sunshine make a difference?

How transparency brings the trading system to life 1
WithRobert Wolfe

This chapter focuses on how Members use the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements to make the trading system a living thing. The first use of sunshine as a metaphor for transparency as a policy tool is attributed to the American jurist Louis Brandeis. In writing about efforts to regulate finance, he said, 'Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. The chapter discusses the logic of transparency in general. It describes three generations in the evolution of transparency in the trading system as a means of explaining how transparency works in the WTO. The chapter explores improvements to the process of notification, mainly the 'right to know' policy. It concludes that sunshine does make a difference, but not always a positive one. While new players in the trading system seem to accept the transparency paradigm, its full deployment may be beyond the capacities of many developing countries.