TRADE POLICY REVIEW MECHANISM

One of the major functions of the World Trade Organization is to conduct peer review of trade policies and practices of its Members. The objectives of the TPRM, as expressed in the Marrakech Agreement, are two fold:

i.         To contribute to improved adherence by all Members to rules, disciplines and commitments made under the Multilateral Trade Agreements and, where applicable, the Plurilateral Trade Agreements, and hence to the smoother functioning of the multilateral trading system, by achieving greater transparency in, and understanding of, the trade policies and practices of Members. Accordingly, the review mechanism enables the regular collective appreciation and evaluation of the full range of individual Members' trade policies and practices and their impact on the functioning of the multilateral trading system. It is not, however, intended to serve as a basis for the enforcement of specific obligations under the Agreements or for dispute settlement procedures, or to impose new policy commitments on Members.

ii.        The assessment carried out under the review mechanism takes place, to the extent relevant, against the background of the wider economic and developmental needs, policies and objectives of the Member concerned, as well as of its external environment. However, the function of the review mechanism is to examine the impact of a Member's trade policies and practices on the multilateral trading system.

The Agreement mandates that the four Members with the largest shares of world trade (currently the European Communities, the United States, Japan and China) be reviewed each two years, the next 16 are reviewed each four years, and others be reviewed each six years. Once the trade policy of a Member is presented for review, the remaining Member states are expected to examine such policies, both individually and collectively, with respect to their impact on global economy as well as that of the respective Member state. Each Member state has a right to critically evaluate the trade related measures of the country under review, seek clarifications in the form of written questions, convey impediments faced by their business communities, which they feel restrict their trade or investments; and comment on any other economic issue, which they may consider discriminatory or unjustified.

All such questions are subsequently circulated to the entire membership; and the country under review is expected to respond in writing; and justify the measures thus challenged during this review process. Since all senior policy makers and implementers including the relevant Ministers and/or Permanent Secretaries of the country being reviewed are present at this occasion, the questions and clarifications being sought at this occasion get the attention of the policy makers.

To facilitate the process, each national government prepares a policy report before its review for making it known to the rest of the Membership. In the meanwhile, WTO Secretariat also compiles an independent report on behalf of the Membership, highlighting the factual position of the actual economic and trade environment of the Member state under review.

The reports on trade policies prepared by the respective national governments and those compiled by the WTO Secretariat are available some 4 weeks in advance of the date of review on the WTO website

The annual schedule of the trade policy reviews during 2009, as announced by the WTO Secretariat is as follows: 

Country Date
  Guatemala 4 + 6 February  
  Japan 18 + 20 February  
  Brazil 9 + 11 March  
  Fiji 25 + 27 March  
  European Communities 6 + 8 April  
  Mozambique 22 + 24 April  
  Solomon Islands 6 + 8 May  
  New Zealand 11 + 12 June  
  Morocco 24 + 26 June  
  Guyana 8 + 10 July  
  Zambia 27 + 29 July  
  Southern African Customs Union (SACU) 22 + 24 September  
  Chile 7 + 9 October  
  Maldives 26 + 28 October  
  Senegal and Niger 4 + 6 November  
  El Salvador 25 + 27 November  
  Georgia 8 + 10 December  
  Croatia 16 + 18 December  

(Source: http://www.wto.org/meets_public/meets_e.pdf)