Trade monitoring and reviews

Ensuring the trade policies and laws of World Trade Organization (WTO) Members are transparent and meet their respective commitments and obligations is fundamental to the work of the WTO. There are a number of mechanisms that do this, but the two key processes are the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) and the WTO Trade Monitoring Reports.

Trade Policy Review Mechanism

The Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) is a forum for Members to openly discuss and provide objective analysis of Member trade policies and practices. The objective of the TPRM is to contribute to improved adherence by all Members to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, disciplines and commitments. It is not intended as a mechanism for enforcing WTO obligations, dispute settlement procedures or imposing new trade policy commitments, but as a means to make the trade rules and practices of Members more transparent.

The frequency of reviews depends on the Member’s share of global trade:

  • the four largest traders (the European Union, the United States, China and Japan) are reviewed every three years
  • the next 16 largest traders (including Australia) are reviewed every five years
  • the remaining Members are reviewed every seven years (with a longer interval for least-developed countries).

The review process

Reviews take into account the Member's economic and developmental needs, policies and objectives, and external trading environment. The review process includes:

  • a report on the Member's trade policies and practices by the WTO Secretariat
  • a report by the Member government
  • a written question and answer process (the Member responds to questions from other Members about trade policies and practices)
  • a formal meeting in Geneva of the WTO Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB).

WTO Trade Monitoring Reports

The WTO produces two series of trade monitoring reports:

  • WTO-wide reports on trade-related developments covering 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 G20 economies.

Australia contributes regularly to the reports to enhance trade policy transparency.

WTO World Trade Outlook Indicator

The WTO launched a new World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI) in 2016 to provide 'real time' information on global trade trends. It complements existing information tools like the trade monitoring reports and longer term trade forecasts.

Resources

Last Updated: 10 October 2017

Contacts

Email: trade.consult@dfat.gov.au

Mail: Office of Trade Negotiations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Barton ACT 0221