WTO: 2015 NEWS ITEMS

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AGREEMENT


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> WTO ITA Workshop on Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) Affecting Trade in IT Products

ITA 2

Many participants said that the negotiations for expanding the ITA coverage came close to conclusion last December, and urged swift conclusion to the negotiations. They welcomed the participation of Director-General Roberto Azevêdo in pushing forward the ITA negotiations, adding that ITA 2 success will also help the Doha Round negotiations.

The European Union said that the basis for inclusion of products in the ITA 2 list is consensus, and urged the participants concerned to not block agreement but to accept what is already on the table. Japan called for progress to be made at the meeting of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) trade ministers meeting in the Philippines later this month and at the June mini-ministerial on the sidelines of the OECD meeting. The United States said it considers ITA 2 a top trade priority, adding that its IT industry as well as those of other countries are getting impatient over the lack of agreement.

Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Montenegro, Singapore, Colombia, Australia and Hong Kong, China also supported the early conclusion of ITA 2.

Korea said it is actively engaged in good faith negotiations, and sees the remaining gap as not big and within reach. China said that it has been doing all it can for ITA 2, including holding difficult consultations with domestic industry, but members cannot expect just one participant to make contributions all the time as all participants must contribute. It said participants must not make unrealistic requests, and should instead focus on what is on the table.

 

Workshop

The Chair, Mr Fred Payot (Switzerland), reported that the WTO Secretariat held a successful workshop the day before on non-tariff barriers affecting trade in ICT products, with the participation of many industry representatives from all over the world.

He said that speakers from the industry made concrete recommendations around the principle “for each area of certification: one global product, one global standard, one global test and one global certificate.”

The recommendations included: the establishment of a centralized database of administrative and technical requirements; avoiding duplication of conformity assessment procedures and use of globally recognized standards; encouraging the use of e-labelling as a solution to the costly problem of the proliferation of marking requirements; harmonizing practice in the field of energy efficiency requirements; and encouraging global cooperation to avoid forced localization requirements.

Switzerland suggested that the incoming chair consult with members on how the Committee should proceed with these recommendations, and report at the next meeting. The Philippines, Japan, Chinese Taipei and the EU supported this proposal. The US said that it has heard several doable solutions at the workshop, in particular on e-labelling. It encouraged other ITA members to allow e-labelling use to reduce costs to IT companies.

The Committee elected by acclamation Mr Andrew Staines (United Kingdom) as it new chair.

 

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