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The Transition from Trade Protection to Trade Liberalization: Lessons for Sustainability Transitions

In International Sustainability Transitions Conference IST 2016, Wuppertal, Germany

This paper introduces the case of the transition from trade protection to trade liberalization, a major about-face which completely transformed global trade governance, to draw some lessons for the sustainability transitions community from the discipline of political science. Explaining trade policy trends is a well-researched topic, and many theories have been put forward to explain them, especially in the US which played a key leadership role. This paper seeks to highlight the major theoretical perspectives which might be applicable to transition research and present the key factors in an organized way to the sustainability transitions community and draw implications for how they can be used to strengthen sustainability transition research in terms of theories of change. Many of the suggestions derived from these perspectives relate to traditional national government policymaking processes. This paper suggests that sustainability transitions could be accelerated if they could be more strongly promoted through national government policies. Political science perspectives can also contribute to explaining why some sustainability transition efforts fall short.