WTO IT Trade Deal Cuts Technology Tariffs

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Cheaper technology could be on the way as WTO cuts tariffs on more than 200 high-tech goods

A worldwide trade agreement has been reached on $1 trillion (£641 billion) worth of information technology (IT) products and technology.

The Information Technology Agreement (ITA) agreement will apparently help tech manufacturers as the deal sees the cutting of tariffs on more than 200 products, ranging from computer chips, video games, GPS systems through to medical kit.

Landmark Deal

acquisition handshake ©Drazen shutterstockThis means that more than 200 IT goods will now be covered by zero-tariff and duty-free trade.

The new ITA deal comes after a previous worldwide trade agreement that was reached way back in 1996. Back then, only 29 countries signed that deal. But in 2012 the World Trade Organisation (WTO) sought to expand that agreement to cover products that have now become commonplace since the 1990s.

And now 80 participants have this week signed the updated deal, and these participating countries account for nearly 97 percent of the worldwide trade in IT products.

The agreement has been generally heralded as being good for all concerned, and could help in the creation of more jobs. US Trade Representative Michael Froman for example was quoted by Reuters as saying that the removal of tariffs could support up to 60,000 additional jobs.

Likewise, tech vendors have also welcomed the deal.

“That definitely impacts Intel and that’s important but also as important are the other technologies that it covers that were not even dreamt of when the original ITA was negotiated,” Intel communications director Lisa Malloy was quoted as saying.

But it remains to be seen whether these tariff cuts on technology goods will result in cheaper high street prices for consumers.

Furthermore, it should be noted that not all 161 member countries chose to sign the deal. And the technical aspects of the deal will only be worked out in December this year, when the WTO members are due to meet in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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