Most Participants Have Implemented ITA Expansion Commitments, WTO Says
The World Trade Organization announced Nov. 1 that 18 of the 24 participants in the expanded Information Technology Agreement have implemented their tariff commitments under the deal. The European Union, Australia, Albania, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Thailand have yet to submit their revised tariff schedules, but the WTO anticipates full implementation in the near future. The WTO also noted that China started implementing its first tariff cuts on covered goods on Sept. 15 and that Macao has initiated the process to join the expanded ITA, with other WTO members expressing an interest in joining as well.
The expanded ITA covers 201 information and communications technology products that have an annual global trade value of more than $1.3 trillion and were previously subject to tariffs of up to 35 percent. Covered goods include multi-component semiconductors (MCOs), medical equipment, GPS devices, tools for manufacturing printed circuits, video game consoles, printer ink cartridges, static converters and inductors, loudspeakers, software media (e.g., solid state drives), point-of-sale cards to download software and games, LEDs, touch-sensitive input devices, children’s electronic learning devices, and various ICT testing instruments. These are in addition to the products covered under the original ITA concluded in December 1996, which accounted for an estimated $1.6 trillion in global trade in 2013.
Only about a third of the WTO’s members have signed the expanded ITA, which binds them to provide duty-free access for affected goods from all WTO members. More than 95 percent of participants’ tariffs on covered goods will be fully eliminated by July 2019, though tariff elimination schedules vary by country and China will phase out its tariffs more slowly than others. Tariffs remaining on a small range of products will be completely removed by 2023 at the latest.