WTO Trade Policy Review Mechanism
The trade policies and practices of all World Trade Organization (WTO) Members are reviewed regularly, under the auspices of the WTO Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM). The TPRM was provisionally established at the Montreal Mid-Term Review of the Round in December 1988. Article III of the Marrakesh Agreement, agreed by Ministers in April 1994, placed the TPRM on a permanent footing as one of the WTO's basic functions and, with the entry into force of the WTO in 1995, the mandate of the TPRM was broadened to cover services trade and intellectual property.
The objective of the TPRM is to contribute to improved adherence by all Members to WTO rules, disciplines and commitments. The TPRM promotes transparency in trade policy making. It provides a forum for Members to openly discuss and provide objective analysis of each other's trade policies and practices. Reviews take into account the Member's wider economic and developmental needs, policies and objectives as well as the external trading environment. They are not intended to serve as a basis for the enforcement of WTO obligations, for WTO dispute settlement procedures, or to impose new trade policy commitments.
The frequency of the reviews depends on the Member's share in world trade. The four largest traders (the European Union, the United States, China and Japan) are reviewed every two years; the next 16 largest traders (including Australia) every four years; and the remaining Members every six years, with a longer interval for least-developed countries.
The review process includes:
- a detailed report on the Member under review's trade policies and practices prepared by the WTO Secretariat;
- a report by the government of the Member under review;
- a written question and answer process, whereby the Member under review must respond to detailed questions from other Members regarding its trade policies and practices; and
- a formal meeting in Geneva of the WTO Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB).
All review documents, including minutes of the meeting, questions and answers by Members and review reports (both by the Member under review and the Secretariat), are made available on the WTO website shortly after the formal meeting of the TPRB (refer TPRM link below).
Australia’s Trade Policy Review
WTO Trade Monitoring Reports
The WTO currently produces two series of “trade monitoring reports”. These series of reports were started in the wake of the global financial and economic crisis that began in 2008. At the WTO's 8th Ministerial Conference in 2011, Ministers asked for the trade monitoring work to be continued and strengthened.
- WTO-wide reports on trade-related developments covering the whole WTO membership and observers
- joint reports with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on trade and investment measures taken by G-20 economies.
These trade monitoring reports are intended to enhance transparency of trade policy developments around the world. WTO Members, including Australia, contribute to these reports regularly.
More information on these reports, including the latest reports, can be found on the WTO website.
WTO World Trade Outlook Indicator
In 2016 the WTO launched a new World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI) designed to provide “real time” information on trends in global trade.
It is expected to be used to complement existing information tools such as the WTO’s Trade Related Monitoring Reports and WTO longer-term trade forecasts.
The latest indicator can be found on the WTO website.