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gst: WTO members praise India’s GST, ease of doing business, other structural reforms

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New Delhi: Members of the World Trade Organization on Friday appreciated India’s goods and services tax, reforms on taxation, trade facilitation and improving the ease of doing business, and liberalised regimes for FDI and intellectual property rights at the second and final session of its Trade Policy Review (TPR).

On its part, India said it is committed to become an attractive trade and investment partner for the world and that it has a stable policy environment with considerably lower applied rates than its WTO commitments, with only a miniscule fraction of its imports being subject to trade remedial measures.

New Delhi also said it is 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.

“There was huge appreciation for India’s reforms and leadership role at the WTO and championing the cause developing world, including our proposal on TRIPS waiver,” said one official.

The TPR is an important mechanism under the WTO’s monitoring function wherein member countries’ trade and related policies are examined by the organisation for improved adherence to multilateral rules and feedback to the member under review.

“Almost all developing countries complimented India on its stance on special and differential treatment, agriculture and leadership at the WTO. Even China’s statement, though nuanced, was very positive on day one,” said another official, adding that only the EU and the US took the floor on the second day of the review to ask India to focus on issues related to farm subsidies and tariffs.

Above 1,050 questions asked during the two-day exercise and 53 interventions were made by the member countries.

India’s official delegation for India’s seventh TPR was headed by the commerce secretary Anup Wadhawan, who responded to issues raised by the members during the first session of the review held on January 6.

In its report on Wednesday, the multilateral trade watchdog said that India’s export restrictions and bans seem to contradict its goal to increase its share of global exports to 3.5% by 2020 from 2% in 2015, and that the country continued to use trade policy to meet other objectives, changing policies constantly and diminishing the predictability of the regime. On trade remedies, it noted that India continues to be an active user of anti-dumping measures and “is currently the main user of anti-dumping measures in the WTO”.

“Introduction of a path-breaking structural reform in the form of GST by India, during the review period, was also commended,” the commerce and industry ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said that India’s proactive efforts in implementing the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and the role played by it in furthering “Ease of Doing Business” in the country and its highly improved ranking in the “Trading across Borders” indicator under the Doing Business Report were observed.

“The commerce secretary mentioned 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 for food security,” the government said, adding that he appreciated the importance placed by the membership on the country’s role and contribution to world trade and the multilateral trading system.



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