A full-day round-table meeting organized by the Centre for International Governance Innovation and the World Bank Group brought together individuals representing industry, the public sector, think tanks and academia to discuss regulatory cooperation. Technical barriers have replaced tariffs as the most significant barriers to trade, and regulatory cooperation is a solution to some of these barriers, although this is a controversial topic. Participants offered a variety of ideas about how to solve problems associated with regulatory cooperation, and there was a rich dialogue between representatives from different interest areas.

Solving public concerns, building trust between regulators, increasing democratic legitimacy and providing incentives to regulators were highlighted as necessary preconditions to reducing controversy and achieving successful outcomes in this area. The appropriate mode and framework for implementing regulatory cooperation was discussed, as was the reduction of the costs of regulatory heterogeneity across countries, and the potential role of trade agreements to support regulatory cooperation and the achievement of national regulatory objectives. If the benefits of regulatory cooperation are appropriately leveraged, international trade will see enhanced economic competitiveness, while maintaining high levels of protection for consumers and the environment.

There is an urgency to identifying and implementing best practices for regulatory cooperation, and further research will facilitate this. Specific areas for research include undertaking a cost/benefit analysis of regulatory cooperation through case studies; addressing negative public opinion about regulatory cooperation through implementation in a manner respectful of national sovereignty and the right to regulate, as well as with better communication and complementary domestic policies; identification of industry characteristics where regulatory cooperation has been most successful; and examining mandates for regulators to identify how consideration for regulatory cooperation may be included.