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The WTO and the Cartagena Protocol: International Policy Coordination or Conflict?

By Grant E. Isaac


International policy coordination is a challenging exercise requiring policy rapprochement among sovereign nations that often have very different political economy situations. Successful efforts may even result in the creation of multilateral paradigms such as trade agreements or multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). Typically, there is overlap between these independent paradigms; sometimes in the nexus there is policy coordination and other times there is conflict. An understanding of the factors that account for coordination and conflict is crucial in ensuring that any benefits from policy coordination that may be achieved in one paradigm are not eroded through conflicts with another paradigm. This article presents a case study of the implications of overlapping multilateral paradigms – the World Trade Organization and an MEA known as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety – for international market access of biotechnology-based agri-food products.Agricultural and Food Policy, International Relations/Trade,

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