WTO Members Eliminate Tariffs on $1 Trillion in IT Trade
The World Trade Organization announced today that negotiators from 54 countries reached an agreement which would expand the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and eliminate tariffs on an additional 200 products valued at about $1 trillion in annual trade. The IT products covered by the extension include new generation semi-conductors, GPS navigation equipment, and medical equipment, including magnetic resonance imaging products and ultra-sonic scanning apparatus.
“This is a big deal,” said Roberto Azevêdo, director general of the WTO. “The trade covered in this agreement is comparable to the annual global trade in iron, steel, textiles and clothing combined. By taking this step, WTO members will help to provide a jump-start to the global economy and underline the WTO’s role as the central global forum for trade negotiations.”
While not all WTO members participated in these negotiations, all will benefit from the outcome, noted Azevêdo, because the participants will scrap duties on imports of these products regardless of which WTO member has produced them.
WTO negotiators will now spend several months hammering out the technical details and the timetable for tariff elimination. The objective would be for all elements to be completed in time for the 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December. This is the first tariff-cutting agreement in the WTO for 18 years.
The Information Technology Agreement was finalized in 1997 and covers 80 WTO members. Efforts to expand the coverage of the agreement were launched in 2012.