The list of products and the draft declaration which spells out how the Agreement would be implemented have been sent to capitals for review. Members have until Friday at noon Geneva time to give final approval.
“This is a big deal,” said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo. “The trade covered in this agreement is comparable to annual global trade in iron, steel, textiles and clothing combined. By taking this step, WTO members will help to provide a jump-start to the global economy and underline the WTO's role as the central global forum for trade negotiations.”
While not all WTO members participated in these negotiations, all will benefit from the outcome because the participants will scrap duties on imports of these products regardless of which WTO member has produced them. Applying duties in a uniform and non-discriminatory manner across the WTO membership is known as the most favoured nation principle.
When the product list and draft declaration are approved, WTO negotiators will spend several months hammering out the technical details and the timetable for tariff elimination. The objective would be for all elements to be completed in time for Ministers of those members who are involved in this initiative to conclude the ITA expansion agreement at the 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December. It would be the first tariff-cutting agreement in the WTO for 18 years.
The Information Technology Agreement was finalized in 1997 and covers 80 WTO members. Efforts to expand the coverage of this agreement were launched in 2012.