New Delhi: The second and final Session of India’s seventh Trade Policy Review (TPR) concluded today, 8thJanuary 2021, at the World Trade Organization in Geneva. The TPR is an important mechanismunder 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, while providing constructive feedback to the Member under review.
India’s official delegation for the TPR was headed by the Commerce Secretary, Dr. Anup Wadhawan. In his closing statement to the WTO Membership today, the Commerce Secretary effectively responded to the issues raised by the Members during the first Session of India’s TPR held on 6th January 2021, while appreciating the importance placed by the WTO Members on India’s role and contribution toworld trade, as well as to the multilateral trading system. This can be gauged by more than 1050 questions asked during this exercise as well as 53 interventions made by the Member countries in the TPR meetings.
The Commerce Secretary highlighted that reform is a continuous and ongoing process, and the Government of India is deeply committed to pursuing this path to make India an attractive trade and investment partner for the world. He also informed that that India is striving toforge greater economic and trade linkages with the world, by utilizing all avenues available.
The Commerce Secretary mentioned that the ongoing pandemic has again brought to the fore, the importance of food and livelihood security and urged the Membership for a permanent solution to Public Stock Holding (PSH) for food security. He also informed that India has a stable policy environment with considerably lower applied rates than its WTO commitments. While emphasizing that India’s trade remedial investigations are conducted in a transparent manner and in accordance with WTO provisions, he also mentioned that only a miniscule fraction of India’s imports attract these measures.
The Commerce Secretary conveyed India’s gratitude to the Members for their active participation in India’s review, highlighting that this is an indicator of their keen interest in strengthening trade ties with India. He specially thanked the LDC Members for their appreciation of India’s proactive efforts at the WTO as well as India’s very liberal Duty-Free Tariff Preference Scheme. While conveying India’s deep commitment to the multilateral trading system and continued positive role in the international fora, he also informed the Membership about India’s commitment on streamlining and simplifying the overall domestic business environment even further, with an aim to break into the top 50 in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report.
The Discussant for India’s TPR, Ambassador (Ms.) SunantaKangvalkulkij of Thailand, in her concluding remarks, appreciated India’s efforts and commitment towards this transparency exercise. She also noted the interest shown by the WTO membership in India’s review and strongly commended the steps taken by India in the past 5 years onwide-ranging economic issues. Introduction of a path-breaking structural reform in the form of Goods & Services Tax by India, during the review period, was also commended. The Discussant specifically observed India’s proactive efforts in the implementation of WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and the role played by it in furthering “Ease of Doing Business” in the country, while observing the highly improved ranking of India in the “Trading across Borders” indicator under the Doing Business Report. She also noted that the WTO Membership has been appreciative of the steps taken by India for liberalizing its FDI regime and India’s National Intellectual Property Rights Policy, 2016.
The meeting ended with the closing remarks of the Chair of the WTO’s TPR Body, Ambassador Harald Aspelund, wherein he congratulated India for its strong economic growth during the period under review, and commended India’s support during the TPR exercise.