The agenda demanded we abolish import licensing, lower import duties, allow foreign investment and technology, eliminate export subsidies and so on. We did all this because of our own compulsions. So, there was no harm in agreeing to the Uruguay Round agreements in 1995.
Many hold the view that we dismantled quantitative restrictions (QR) in 2001 under WTO pressures. Indeed, they spread the fears that Indian businesses will be wiped out when we open our doors to foreign firms.
The fears have been proved false. Indian businesses have only become more efficient and competitive. The abolition of QR was warranted in our own interest.
And the rule-based trading system helped us push it through. WTO agreements provide enough defence mechanisms against unbridled imports and we use them to the hilt.
We still maintain the highest rates of import duties in the world. These are still, far below the
First Published: Mon, September 29 2003. 00:00 IST