24 April 2003

China, Egypt join WTO's Information Technology Agreement

China and Egypt, on 24 April 2003, joined a WTO agreement on removing all tariff barriers to information technology products such as personal computers and telecoms equipment.

The Committee of Participants on the Expansion of Trade in Information Technology Products approved the participation of the two countries, which became the 58th and the 59th members of the WTO's Information Technology Agreement (ITA).

China's Ambassador Sun Zhenyu and Egypt's Ambassador Naéla Gabr presented the membership requests of their respective governments to the Committee.

The other ITA participants are: Albania; Australia; Bulgaria; Canada; Costa Rica; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; El Salvador; Estonia; European Communities (the EC schedule comprises the commitments of the 15 member states); Hong Kong, China; Iceland; India; Indonesia; Israel; Japan; Jordan; Korea; Kyrgyz Republic; Latvia; Macao, China; Malaysia; Mauritius; Moldova; New Zealand; Norway; Oman; Panama; Philippines; Poland; Singapore; Slovak Republic; Slovenia; Switzerland (on behalf of the customs union Switzerland and Liechtenstein); Chinese Taipei; Thailand; Turkey; and the United States.

This WTO agreement is helping push the information technology revolution forward. Beginning in 2000, most of the world trade in information technology products (worth $828 billion in 2001 for office and telecom equipment, a large part of which are IT products) became completely free of tariffs under ITA. Participation in the ITA means that the country must eliminate tariffs and all other duties and charges on covered IT imports from all WTO members.

From the 29 participants that negotiated the ITA during WTO’s First Ministerial Conference in Singapore in December 1996, membership has now risen to 59 that account for 95% of world trade in IT products.