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Introduction to WTO Centre

The Centre for WTO Studies was set up in the year 1999 to be a permanent repository of WTO negotiations-related knowledge and documentation. It was also envisaged that the Centre would evolve into a research unit with interest in trade in general and WTO in particular to finally develop into an independent think tank in the area. The Centre was later situated in the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in November 2002.

Over the years, the Centre has conducted a robust research programme with a series of papers in all spheres of interest at the WTO. It is currently engaging itself in an exercise to back its research with an equally robust publication programme. The Centre has also created a specialised e-repository of important WTO documents, especially related to India, in its Trade Resource Centre.

It has been regularly called upon by the Government of India to undertake research and provide independent analytical inputs to help it develop positions in its various trade negotiations, both at the WTO and other forums such as Free and Preferential Trade Agreements and Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements.

Additionally, the Centre has been actively interfacing with industry and Government units as well as other stakeholders through its Outreach and Capacity Building programmes by organizing seminars, workshops, subject specific meetings etc. The Centre thus also acts as a platform for consensus building between stakeholders and policy makers.

Research activities

The research activities carried out by the Centre can be classified into two broad categories:

First, those that are mainly demand driven, especially relating to current WTO and RTA negotiations. These include requests from the Government in which the Centre has been providing technical inputs, especially in the following areas:

a. Agriculture
c. Services
e. Subsidies and Anti-Dumping.

Second, those that are autonomously taken up by the Centre. In this category, Centre has taken up research in areas such as Trade and Gender, Trade and Environment, Trade in Cultural Products, Trade Facilitation, Developing web portal on SPS and TBT database etc. In addition, Centre has also carried out joint studies with inter-governmental agencies like ADB, Commonwealth Secretariat, ESCAP, UNCTAD and UNICEF.

Capacity Building

During the period 2008-2013 the Centre has organised more than 112 capacity building programmes including, inter alia, training programmes at the IIFT, Seminars, Workshops and Trade Talks at select places in India. Centre has also organised several National Workshops and Training Events in collaboration with WTO; UNESCAP, Bangkok; ICTSD, Geneva; Third World Network; CenTaD, etc.

The Centre is working with select State Governments to build WTO Cells at their respective Academies of Administration (AoA). The initiative of the Centre has been well received by many States who have evinced a desire to be a part of the discourse on issues currently being negotiated at the WTO, especially those areas in which there is considerable State-level stake. A training module has already been developed for such a programme. The Centre has been requested by the Academies to provide support by providing books, reading and training materials as well as suggest and handhold for small projects for building local resources and training identified nodal persons.

The Centre has also organised a Training of Trainers programme for some top business houses in India with a view to set-up WTO Cells in these houses so that they can participate and contribute effectively in the policy making process of Government of India. The Centre is working with a few business houses to organise customised capacity building programmes for their top executives.

Stakeholders Consultations

The Centre has been called upon by the Government to provide research and logistical support in organising Stakeholders Consultations on various issues ranging including, inter alia, on impact of enhanced standards in trading partner jurisdictions, understanding domestic regulations of countries and regions where India has positive trade interest, etc.

The Centre has also responded to industry demands to provide research inputs to them on their enquiries and queries on trade issues.

The Centre has organised more than 30 consultation meetings on issues relating to WTO negotiations in agriculture, NAMA, Services, Sectorals, Market access on environmental goods, India – EC FTA, India – EFTA, EC – REACH regulations etc.


The Centre recognises that the fruits of its research would be best disseminated through an active publication programme. In a short period of two years, it has established a publication programme in which it now has started with:

(i) A book on “Review of Trade Policies of India’s Major Trading Partners”
(ii) Discussion Papers

a) India’s Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme: Case Study for Select LDCs
b) Cotton Production, Exports and Price: A Comparative Analysis of India and USA
c) Study on Identification of Select Textile and Wool and Woollen Products Having Export Potential to Chile, Colombia and Peru
d) Trade Facilitation in WTO and Beyond
e) Agriculture under WTO Regime: Cross Country Analysis of Select Issues
f) WTO Negotiations on Market Access on Environmental Goods: Identification of existing NTMs on Proposed Items

(iii) FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on:

a) Agriculture Negotiations in WTO (in English and Hindi)
b) Services Negotiations in WTO (in English and Hindi)
c) Non Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) (in English and Hindi)
d) Agreement on Safeguards
e) Geographical Indications
f) Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures
g) WTO Compatibility of Border Trade Measures for Environmental Protection, released by Commerce Secretary on 18th February 2010.
h) Transfer of Technology in Environmentally Sound Technologies

(iv) Twelve Bi- monthly Newsletters

Network with other institutions and agencies

The Centre has networked with research and multilateral institutions like UNESCAP, Bangkok; UNDP, RCC, Bangkok; Commonwealth Secretariat, London; ICTSD; Third World Network, etc.

Institutional tie ups with the Sri Lankan Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), NEPAL and South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM), Bangladesh are some of the initiatives in South Asian region.

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