WTO trade deal 'will lower prices for key IT' products

7 August 2015

Plans to eliminate trade tariffs on a raft on IT products have taken a step forward with a World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement.

A total of 54 WTO members representing major exporters of information technology products have agreed to eliminate tariffs on more than 200 such products within three years.

The agreement covers products including new-generation semi-conductors, GPS and navigation systems. Medical products, which include magnetic resonance imaging machines, machine tools for manufacturing printed circuits, telecommunications satellites and touch screens, are also included.

Under the agreement, most tariffs will be eliminated within three years, with reductions beginning next year. By the end of October 2015, participating members will submit a draft schedule on how the terms of the agreement will be met.

There is also a commitment to tackle non-tariff barriers in the IT sector, and to keep the list of products covered under review.

The new agreement is an expansion of the 1996 Information Technology Agreement, to cover new categories of IT products not covered in the existing agreement.

WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo said annual trade in the IT products covered in the agreement was valued at more than $1.3 trillion (£84 billion), and the agreement was a landmark.

“Eliminating tariffs on trade of this magnitude will have a huge impact,” he said. “It will support lower prices including in many other sectors that use IT products as inputs, it will create jobs and it will help to boost GDP growth around the world.”

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