The European Union, Switzerland, Norway and Costa Rica emphasized the importance of the ITA expansion and encouraged other members of the Committee to join the Expansion Agreement. In the EU’s view, eliminating tariffs in a further set of products will allow industry to reduce the cost of importing the hardware necessary to develop the IT sector, create highly qualified jobs for young people, make other industries more efficient by using IT and enable countries to become part of global value chains.
The expansion of the ITA, agreed at the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in December 2015, eliminates tariffs on an additional 201 IT products valued at over $1.3 trillion per year. Negotiations were conducted by over 50 WTO members but all 162 WTO members will benefit from the Agreement as they will all enjoy duty-free market access to the markets of the members eliminating tariffs on these products.
Seven members of the Committee (United States, European Union, Japan, Korea, Canada, Norway and Australia) sought justification or clarification from India on a Customs notification that raises duties to 10 per cent ad valorem for several ITA products. These members considered that, according to India’s certified WTO schedule of concessions, the duties of the products should be bound to “zero”.
India said that it had heard the concerns expressed by members and informed them that the written questions submitted by some had been sent to capital for analysis. Products mentioned in the questions submitted by the European Union, Japan and the United States include telecommunications switches, voice-over internet protocol phones, optical transport equipment and network products.
In addition to reviewing the status of implementation of the ministerial declaration on trade in ITA products and the current work on non-tariff barriers, the Committee also approved on an ad referendum basis the classification of an additional 15 items for which there were classification divergences.