India’s seventh Trade Policy Review (TPR) began on January 6 at the World Trade Organization in Geneva. The TPR is an important mechanism under the WTO’s monitoring function and involves a comprehensive peer-review of the Members’ national trade policies. India’s last TPR took place in 2015.
“A comprehensive report issued by the WTO Secretariat on the occasion, chronicling all major trade and economic initiatives that India took over the last five years, acknowledged India’s strong economic growth at 7.4 per cent during the period under review and made a positive note of India’s reform efforts during this period. The Report noted that strong economic growth led to an improvement in socio-economic indicators, such as per-capita income and life expectancy in India. The Secretariat report also commended India for liberalising its FDI policy, ratifying the Trade Facilitation Agreement and implementing several trade-facilitation measures during the period under review,” informed a PIB release.
India’s official delegation for the TPR is headed by the Commerce Secretary, Dr Anup Wadhawan. In his opening statement to the WTO Membership on the occasion, Commerce Secretary emphasised that this TPR is taking place at a time when the world is witnessing unprecedented health and economic crisis. He highlighted the far-reaching efforts made by India to effectively address the health and economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat initiative.
Dr Anup Wadhawan reaffirmed India’s commitment to ensuring equitable and affordable access to vaccines and COVID-treatments for all and underlined the critical role that multilateral trading system can play in this regard. He highlighted that, in order to deal with the immediate fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic, India has advocated a short-term package of effective measures at the WTO that includes a temporary waiver of certain TRIPS provisions to increase manufacturing capacity and ensure timely and affordable availability of new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19; a permanent solution for Public Stockholding (PSH) for food security purposes to address food security concern; and a multilateral initiative that provides for easier access to medical services under mode-4 to facilitate easier cross-border movement of health care professionals.
While more than 50 WTO Members who delivered statements on the occasion, commended India for its strong and resilient economic growth and for the vast improvement in its ease of doing business, as acknowledged by the World Bank, several Members applauded India’s leadership role in the global efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic, acknowledging India’s position as the ‘pharmacy of the world’.