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General Council approves first ever amendment to Trade Policy Review Mechanism

The WTO General Council approved landmark reforms to the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) on 26 July to improve the process of reviewing members’ trade policies and practices and the monitoring of the global trading environment. This consensus decision to amend the TPRM for the first time since its establishment in 1989 demonstrates members’ continued success in enhancing the workings of the WTO.

Adjustment to the cycles of WTO members’ Trade Policy Reviews (TPRs) is one of the important reforms that will ensure the continued effectiveness of TPRs amid the rising number of WTO members, of which there are now 164. The current review cycle, which has members undergoing a TPR every two, four or six years depending on the size of their economy, will be changed to frequencies of three, five, or seven years respectively, with the largest economies reviewed most frequently. The new arrangement will be phased in, starting from 2019.

“I would like to underline the significance for all members of this result as we were able to succeed in taking an important decision by consensus in a wide and participative manner, and this was done in a rather short period of time,” the Chair of the Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB), Ambassador Juan Carlos Gonzalez (Colombia), told the General Council. “I believe this attests to the capacity of the WTO to deliver positive results to enhance its regular work.”

Members’ agreement to the amendment was accomplished after a series of intensive consultations and meetings following the launch of the Sixth Appraisal of the TPRM on 20 June 2016 under former TPRB Chair Ms Irene Young (Hong Kong, China).

Just six months later, members formally agreed on the final appraisal report at a TPRB meeting on 21 December 2016. The TPRB then agreed on 27 January 2017 to submit the proposal to the General Council to amend the TPRM as contained in Annex 3 to the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO. Following approval by the General Council, the amendment has been officially incorporated into the WTO Agreement, pursuant to paragraph 8 of Article X of the Marrakesh Agreement.