This paper examines the way that a range of development actors view and engage with the arena of trade policy, focusing in particular on the challenges encountered by civil society actors participating in that arena.
The dynamics of civil society participation in the trade arena what might be achieved, and how are very different from those that shape civil society participation in processes labelled poverty reduction; this paper explores the differences. To achieve this, we provide an overview of the international trade policy landscape, and discuss factors that shape participation at the interfaces of trade and development policy processes.
We go on to present the views and perspectives of two sets of civil society actors – UK-based international non-government organisations, and Ugandan and Kenyan civil society organisations – about their experiences and strategies of engagement and participation.
Finally we reflect on some of the challenges of civil society participation in the trade arena: structural complexity and inequities, the exclusion of alternatives to trade liberalisation narratives, and the dynamics of representation.