Deal between 54 WTO members to remove trade tariff on IT, electronic products
In a major breakthrough, 54 countries have agreed to ensure duty-free trade in more than 200 electronic and IT products, including medical equipment, which will ultimately reduce prices of such items across the world. In a meeting in Geneva, 54 member countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have signed a deal to remove import tariff on 201 products that account for around 7% of the total global trade. The annual trade in these products is valued at more than $1.3 trillion per year. Terming the agreement “a landmark”, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, said, “Eliminating tariffs on trade of this magnitude will have a huge impact. 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.” The products covered in the agreement included new-generation semi-conductors, GPS navigation systems, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, machine tools for manufacturing printed circuits, telecommunications satellites and touch screens. The WTO Director-General said that though the deal has been signed by only 54 countries, all 161 WTO members will benefit from this agreement, “as they will all enjoy duty-free market access in the markets of those members who are eliminating tariffs on these products”. As per the agreement, the majority of tariffs will be eliminated on these products within three years, beginning from 2016. By the end of October this year, each of the participating members will submit to the other participants a draft schedule which spells out how the terms of the agreement would be met, the WTO said in a press statement on Friday. The members are yet to finalise the time-table for removal of tariff, but work on all technical details is expected to be completed before WTO’s next ministerial conference to be held in Nairobi in December. The agreement also contains a commitment to work to tackle non-tariff barriers in the IT sector, and to keep the list of products covered under review to determine whether further expansion may be needed to reflect future technological developments, the Geneva-based international trade body said. The negotiation for the agreement had started in 2012.
July 25, 2015 | 5:38 pm IST.