The Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) is a little-known but important activity of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Its purpose is to strengthen observance of WTO commitments and promote trade liberalization by providing all member countries with current and objective information about the trade policies and practices of each member individually and by establishing a forum within which members can question one another's policies and practices in a nonconfrontational manner.
Since the TPRM was established in 1989 as one of the first fruits of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, some 80 trade policy reviews (TPRs) have been completed, covering nearly 60 countries. A review of the TPRM itself is therefore timely. In light of eight years of experience with the process, it is fair to ask whether the TPRM is meeting the goals set for it at its inception. Are the reviews sufficiently probing and analytical to provide information of real value? Do they cover all relevant aspects of members' trade? Are they unbiased and objective? Does the WTO devote sufficient resources to the task of conducting the reviews—and to disseminating the information that they generate? Is the potential value of this information to those outside the trade negotiations process being realized? This monograph seeks to answer these questions and others.