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States Continue Talks To Expand IT Trade Agreement

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

13 May 2015

A number of countries have called for the swift conclusion of negotiations on the expansion of the World Trade Organization's Information Technology Agreement (ITA), during a meeting of the ITA Committee on May 8, 2015.

The ITA, established in 1996, eliminates tariffs on a number of technology products, such as semiconductors, computers, and telecommunications equipment. However, the agreement's coverage has never been updated, even though there have been significant technological advances since 1996, and many IT goods are therefore now not included in the deal.

The European Union said that the basis for inclusion of products in the updated agreement (ITA 2) is consensus, and urged participants not to block agreement but to accept what is already on the table.

Japan called for progress to be made at the meeting of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) trade ministers in the Philippines later this month and at the June mini-ministerial on the sidelines of the OECD meeting.

The United States said it considers ITA 2 a top trade priority, adding that its IT industry as well as those of other countries, are getting impatient over the lack of agreement.

Norway; Switzerland; Canada; Chinese Taipei; Montenegro; Singapore; Colombia; Australia; and Hong Kong, China also supported the early conclusion of ITA 2.

South Korea said it is actively engaged in good faith negotiations, and said it sees the remaining gap as not big and within reach.

It was noted at the May 8 meeting that the conclusion of ITA 2 would also help the Doha Round negotiations, which aim to achieve a global agreement on the reduction of tax and non-tariff barriers on international trade.

TAGS: tax | export duty | tariffs | Australia | China | Colombia | Norway | Philippines | Singapore | Montenegro | Canada | Hong Kong | Switzerland | United States | import duty | trade | Japan | Europe | Asia-Pacific

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