Seventh Trade Policy Review of India at the WTO
- 09 Jan 2021
- 5 min read
Why in News
- The TPR is an important mechanism under the WTO’s monitoring function in which member countries’ trade and related policies are examined by the WTO with an aim to contribute towards improved adherence to WTO rules.
- India’s last TPR took place in 2015.
- Appreciation for India:
- Introduction of Goods & Services Tax in 2016.
- India’s efforts in the implementation of WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.
- Role played by India in furthering “Ease of Doing Business” in the country.
- India’s improved ranking in “Trading across Borders” indicator under the Ease of Doing Business Report.
- Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), aims to speed up customs procedures and make trade easier, faster, and cheaper.
- The steps taken by India for liberalizing its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) regime and India’s National Intellectual Property Rights Policy, 2016.
- Concerns for India:
- India’s trade policy remained largely unchanged since the previous review.
- India continues to rely on trade policy instruments such as the tariff, export taxes, minimum import prices, import and export restrictions, and licensing, WTO said.
- These are used to manage domestic demand and supply requirements, protect the economy from wide domestic price fluctuations, and ensure conservation and proper utilization of natural resources.
- As a result, frequent changes are made to tariff rates and other trade policy instruments, which create uncertainty for traders.
- India’s Request:
- The ongoing pandemic has again brought to the fore, the importance of food and livelihood security and urged for a permanent solution to Public Stock Holding (PSH) for food security.
Public Stockholding (PSH)
- It is a policy tool used by governments to procure, stockpile and distribute food when needed.
- Currently, public distribution programmes of developing countries are included under trade-distorting Amber Box measures that attract reduction commitments of WTO.
- India with the group of developing countries is demanding that the programmes for food security purposes be exempted from subsidy reduction commitments of WTO.
- India has repeatedly demanded a permanent solution for public stockholding issues.
Trade Policy Review Mechanism
- The Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) was an early result of the Uruguay Round.
- It is the main transparency instrument of the WTO, affording opportunities for a process of collective evaluation of the trade policies and practices of individual members.
- Facilitating the smooth functioning of the multilateral trading system by enhancing the transparency of Members’ trade policies.
- To examine the impact of a Member’s trade policies and practices on the multilateral trading system.
- The reviews take place in the Trade Policy Review Body which is actually the WTO General Council — comprising the WTO’s full membership — operating under special rules and procedures.
- The trade policy review allows members to put the overall trade and economic policies of a country under the scanner.
- The trade policies of developing countries are taken up for review every four years while developed ones face similar scrutiny every two years.
- The mandate of the TPRM was broadened to cover services trade and intellectual property.
- All WTO Members are subject to review under the TPRM.