During this period, India implemented measures to facilitate trade like reducing the number of documents required and automating the customs clearance system

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has lauded India for clocking 7.4 percent economic growth in the past five years and for steps taken in liberalizing foreign direct investment policy and improving ease of doing business.

A report issued by WTO Secretariat during India’s seventh Trade Policy Review (TPR) noted that strong economic growth led to an improvement in socio-economic indicators, such as per-capita income and life expectancy in India.

“Economic inclusion policies were also enacted to ensure less rural distress, including through an increase in minimum support prices for agricultural products and the direct transfer of subsidies to farmers. The National Food Security Act aims furthermore to provide subsidized food to a large percentage of the rural and urban population. However, given India's continued need for better infrastructure, subsidies will need to be reduced and better targeted, to free up resources for investment,” it said.

The TPR which took place earlier this week is part of the global body's monitoring function which involves a comprehensive peer-review of a member country's national trade policies. India’s last TPR took place in 2015.

“During the period under review, India implemented several measures to facilitate trade, such as a reduction in the number of documents required, and the automation of the customs clearance system for imports and exports,” the report said.

“Other trade-facilitation initiatives introduced since 2015 include: the electronic interface, the Indian Customs Electronic Gateway (ICEGATE); the Single Window Interface for Facilitation of Trade (SWIFT); the new authorized economic operators (AEO) program; the Direct Port Delivery and the Direct Port Entry (DPE) facilities; and the increased use of the Risk Management System (RMS),” it added.

The report further said that India’s trade policy remained largely unchanged since the previous review.

India continues to rely on trade policy instruments such as the tariff, export taxes, minimum import prices, import and export restrictions, and licensing, it said.

“These are used to manage domestic demand and supply requirements, protect the economy from wide domestic price fluctuations, and ensure conservation and proper utilization of natural resources. As a result, frequent changes are made to tariff rates and other trade policy instruments, which creates uncertainty for traders,” it added.

To support both domestic production and exports, it said, India continues to provide several incentives, in the form of direct subsidies and price support schemes, tariff concessions or exemptions, or preferential rates of interest.

According to an official statement, in his opening comments, the Chair of the WTO’s TPR Body, Ambassador Harald Aspelund of Iceland congratulated India for its strong economic growth during the period under review. He commended India for its considerable efforts to facilitate trade and for enacting various programs and legislations to facilitate women’s participation in the Indian economy. He also commended India for its timely and comprehensive responses to more than 700 questions received from WTO members ahead of its TPR.

With an eye on the rapidly expanding size of the Indian market, leading industrialized and developed countries sought greater liberalization of India’s trade policy, especially in the area of agriculture, harmonizing its standards regime with international standards as well as reducing anti-dumping and other trade-remedy measures, the statement said.