SPP’s Mihály Fazekas discusses avenues for reforming the WTO’s monitoring function

October 5, 2020

SPP assistant professor Mihály Fazekas presented at the Geneva Trade Week at the panel on Revitalizing the WTO Monitoring Function: Lessons from other Policy Domains. Together with WTO deputy director general Alan Wolff and IMF ex-deputy managing director Anne Krueger, he put forward proposals on how the global transparency movement has transformed our understanding of trade policy monitoring. Mihály drew on his research at SPP based on web scraping of hundreds of government portals around the world to gather tens of millions of government contracts and republishing them in a standardized and comparable format. With the rise of online transparency and transparent by default data publication by many WTO member states, the possibilities of gathering timely, accurate, and micro level trade data has drastically expanded. In fields like government contracting (the so called WTO Government Procurement Agreement) or mining (the so called Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative), it is now possible to develop automated algorithms to gather, standardize and analyse large swathes of administrative data. Over time, aggregate data submissions by governments to international organisations like the WTO are likely to, at least partially, substituted by automated, real-time data exchanges and processing.