WTO: 2012 NEWS ITEMS

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AGREEMENT


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The European Union said a lot of work has been done in this area, and that participating delegations are moving to a new phase of more bilateral meetings to resolve differences. The United States urged participating delegations to closely look at the next version of the product list, and be prepared to negotiate in January 2013. Japan noted that the number of participants has risen from six to the current 17 (counting the EU as one), and urged other members to participate.  Costa Rica expressed its full support for these discussions.

Nicaragua expressed reservation in expanding product coverage, adding this matter is still being analysed in the capital. El Salvador said it is still holding internal consultations on this issue. India placed on record its serious reservations on the initiative to expand the ITA product coverage. It said that in recent consultations, its stakeholders have pointed to problems regarding relevance of the proposed products, their multiple uses, and possible difficulties in processing at customs. India recalled that at the ITA Symposium earlier this year, it noted that its manufacturing activity dipped because of the ITA.

Norway reported on discussions by a group of 15 members on how to reduce non-tariff measures (NTMs) on IT products. It said that substantial work remains before they could produce a text. The EU said that with tariffs at zero, only NTMs remain as obstacles to IT trade. It stressed that its focus is not on creating obligations but rather on achieving self-commitments in this area based on past work of the Committee. Switzerland, the United States and Japan expressed support for this initiative.

 

New participants

Regarding new participants, the Chair noted that the Russian Federation submitted its ITA schedule to the Committee on 1 August 2012, and that he transmitted comments he received from participants to the Russian Federation on 16 August 2012.

Russia reported that internal work continues regarding comments by participants on its ITA schedule.

The United States said that many members regarded Russia’s commitment to join the ITA as an important part of the country’s accession package. It had made comments on Russia’s schedule regarding the need to make technical changes that would ensure full coverage of ITA products. The European Union and Japan echoed the US view.

On Tajikistan, the Chair recalled that its ITA schedule was circulated last September and that one delegation had made a technical comment. He said that once this is resolved, Tajikistan would become an ITA participant when it accedes to the WTO.

On another issue, the Chair, Mr Aaron Fowler (Canada), asked the Committee to make a final attempt at the next meeting to adopt a draft decision resolving  a number of divergences in classifying IT products, as proposed by a group of customs classification experts and delegates in 2000.

 

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