TRADE LIBERALISATION UNDER WTO:
In the Uruguay Round negotiations, India agreed to reduce tariff on a large number of commodities and remove quantitative restrictions (QRs) on all, except for about 600 commodities. For industrial products, India's commitment was to bring down the average tariff rate from 71 per cent in the pre-Uruguay Round period to 32 per cent in the post-Uruguay Round era. While the 1991 reforms removed QRs on most manufactured intermediate and capital goods, there was little change in the import policy for textiles and clothing. The imports of these products remained practically banned. Thesituation began to change substantially in December 1994 when in separatetreaties with the EU and the USA, India agreed to a comprehensive liberalisationof import policies for textiles. This liberalisation in imports of textiles wasagreed to in part as quid pro quo for the ATC (Agreement on Textiles and Clothing) to phase out the MFA quotas, and in part in exchange for increasedMFA quotas in the US and EU markets. The reform process started in 1995with the removal of QRs on imports of wool tops, synthetic fibers, textile yarnand some selected industrial fabrics. It was also agreed that these productswould be free from import licensing altogether at specified future dates (1 998,2000 or 2002), and tariff rates would be reduced to levels between 20 and 40percent by 2000.
Turning now to other international agreements, India had used the balance of payments provision given in GATT (Article VIII (B)) to justify her routine use of QRs. Soon after the Uruguay Round agreements became effective India's unconstrained use of the balance of payments provision was challenged by the US, EU and other developed countries. It became difficult for India to justify QRs on grounds of balance of payments since there was a strong current account, substantial capital inflow and large foreign exchange reserves. -In 1999-00,2134 items were subject to QRs, of which 1589 items had QRs on imports, being maintained under the balance of payments provision.