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Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (third from left) addresses the fourth WTO Trade Policy Review in Geneva in November 2016 joined by DG Commerce of Sri Lanka Sonali Wijeratne (far left) and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador/PR to the WTO R.D.S. Kumararatne (second from right).

World’s leading trade integrator has tipped its hat to Sri Lanka on the country’s economic performance in its latest Trade Policy Review (TPR)on the country–the most comprehensive international assessment executed across WTO body of members.
In its TPR 2016, which has the final conclusions on the 164 member country review session in Geneva in 2016, WTO says Sri Lanka’s overall economy has “performed relatively well”.

WTO’s previous TPR for Sri Lanka was in 2010 and its (resulting) 2011 report concluded “Sri Lanka (economy) performed reasonably well.”

In its latest TPR 2016, the Lankan economy has performed relatively well in comparison to WTO’s 2010 economic assessment results, and thus, the results stand as a forceful indicator of positive sentiments on improved investor confidence, lessening policy instability and better trade reform outlook for Sri Lanka.

The latest report is Sri Lanka’s fourth TPR since December 2010’s third review –Sri Lanka’s first TPR was in 1995, second was in 2004. WTO TPR is not intended to be an enforcement document but is an indicator of progress made by WTO member countries.
Still, as a result of the in-depth country surveillance by WTO for this report, the TPR mechanism is considered to be, in WTOs own words, ‘fundamentally important activity running throughout the work of the WTO.’ TPRs therefore impact on a country’s investor confidence, trade reform, indicator of policy uncertainty, and more importantly, WTO’s future support initiatives for Sri Lanka.

The new Unity Government’s Policy Orientation to 4th TPR session on 1 November 2016 in Geneva, was presented by Minister Bathiudeen, who led the 8-member Sri Lankan delegation to the international TPR session. “The 4th Trade Policy Review of Sri Lanka is taking place at a historic moment under the ‘National Unity Government’, which was established for the first time in the country by the coalition of two main political parties” Minister Bathiudeen stressed to last year’s Geneva audience. After the conclusion of presentation  many economies gave accolades to Sri Lanka including European Union, US, China and Australia. The Policy Review session was presided by the Chairperson of the Trade Policy Review Body Irene B.K. Young.

The TPR 2016 highlights the country’s achievements at length, and says: “Sri Lanka, a middle-income economy, has performed relatively well since its last review in 2010. Its economy has shown resilience in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and following the resolution of the internal conflict, with an average annual growth rate in real GDP of 6% during the review period.”