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Messerlin, Patrick A.
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
ADBI Working Paper 638
This paper presents an overview of the trade and policy issues in the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It assesses the dramatic changes in the political, economic, and business background from the early 2000s (shaping the MDGs) to the early 2010s (designing the SDGs). These changes rarely get the attention they merit, despite their profound consequences on how to use - or not use - trade policies for promoting development. Following this, it examines the three major phases in the MDG/SDG progress: first, a pro-trade agenda during the preparation of the MDG Report (2002-2005) insisting on the positive impact of trade for development if - a big if - economically sound trade policies are adopted; then, uninspiring MDG8 Gap Reports cantoned in the increasingly sterile - and economically unsound - World Trade Organization negotiations during the implementation period of the MDGs (2007-2015); finally, the ignorance of the trade potential for a "better life" during the preparation of the SDGs (2013-2015). The paper also provides a telling comparison of the MDGs' and SDGs' very different inputs and outputs. The paper concludes by stressing the largely ignored common regulatory agenda between trade policies and the SDGs, arguing that a well-designed trade policy could play a key role for improving domestic regulations, and, hence, contribute to the SDGs' ultimate goal - a "better life".
trade policy
trade regulation
mutual equivalence
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Document Type: 
Working Paper

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