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WTO Head Urges Members To Remain Actively Engaged On ITA

by Mike Godfrey, Tax-News.com, Washington

18 December 2014


The Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevêdo, on December 12, 2014, welcomed progress in negotiations on the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), but urged the negotiators to "remain actively and constructively engaged as we try to bridge the gaps in these negotiations."

"The participants have significantly reduced the gaps on expanding the coverage of the ITA in recent days but unfortunately it has not been possible to finalize the negotiations this week," he said.

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.

It is estimated that the expanded ITA would cut tariffs on approximately USD1 trillion of trade each year and would therefore provide a significant economic boost around the world. Crucially, it would benefit all WTO members, not just the ITA participants, because the tariff cuts would be applied on a multilateral basis.

Last month the United States and China reached an agreement that allowed negotiations on the expanded ITA to continue after they stalled in November last year. However, talks are still being held up as certain WTO members stood firm on interests that were not fully captured by the US-China deal.

TAGS: tax | interest | tariffs | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | trade treaty | China | agreements | United States | import duty | trade

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