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【METI Mobile】World Trade Organization expands IT tariff eliminations

Minister Hayashi speaking as chairman of the ITA Expansion Negotiations.(Photo:WTO Secretariat)

Negotiations to expand the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) successfully concluded at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, on December 16, 2015. Fifty-three countries reached an agreement to expand the elimination of tariffs on information technology (IT) products.

Exempts 10% of global IT trade from tariffs
The WTO created the original ITA in 1996 to eliminate tariffs on IT products such as semiconductors and computers. Since then, the value of trade in products covered by the agreement has approximately tripled. Furthermore, in the two decades since the ITA’s adoption, a host of products have come on to the market including digital video cameras, new-generation semiconductors, medical equipment such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) products and ultra-sonic scanning apparatus. However, because they were not available at the time of the initial agreement, these products were not eligible for tariff elimination.
The updated agreement means about 10% of global IT trade tariffs will be eliminated. That expansion is testament to the surge in global demand for IT products and the impact of the ITA.
Annual trade in new exemptions worth $1.3 trillion
In July 2015, an agreement was reached in Geneva, Switzerland, to make 201 new items eligible for tariff elimination. Annual trade in these products is valued at more than $1.3 trillion, and accounts for approximately 10% of global IT trade today. As chair of ITA expansion negotiations, Japan took the lead in discussions on tariff elimination periods for each product, and the final agreement on December 16 became the first large-scale tariff elimination in the 21st century. The participants hope to encourage other WTO members to join the ITA expansion and enable people all over the world to benefit from trade liberalization of IT-related products.
Last updated: 2016-01-18
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