INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AGREEMENT

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Symposium to mark 20th anniversary of ITA

The symposium provided WTO members, industry representatives and academic experts with the opportunity to celebrate 20 years of the ITA. During the event, participants stressed the importance of information and communication technology (ICT) products for helping developing and developed countries increase digital connectivity. The symposium also provided an overview of trade opening under the ITA, the expansion of the Agreement and the evolution of global trade in ICT products over the past 20 years. A new book charting the economic benefits of the Agreement was launched to mark this occasion. In her concluding remarks, the Chair said: “The fact that the ITA symposia have become a regular feature of the work of the ITA Committee has helped us to have a better understanding of the rapid changes in this very important sector of the global economy.”

Non-tariff measures

As part of the ITA Committee’s work programme on non-tariff barriers (NTBs) affecting trade in information technology products, Switzerland reported that an informal group of members have been focusing their discussions on issues such as conformity assessment, transparency and e-labelling. The exchange of information has included highlighting best practices related to risk-based conformity assessment, such as “mutual recognition”. On transparency, Switzerland said that the informal group is discussing ways to enhance the quality of notifications of products covered by the ITA. The group is also discussing current practices and regulations related to electronic labelling for ICT products. Switzerland invited all interested members to join the discussions on these issues.

A number of members expressed interest in holding a workshop in 2018 on the issue of NTBs.

India and China: duties on ICT products

The United States, the European Union, Japan, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Singapore and Thailand expressed concerns about India’s change to the implementation of its ITA commitment. The concerns involve India’s import duties on ICT products, which according to these members are covered by the ITA.

The US, EU, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, Korea and Chinese Taipei asked for clarifications about China’s new tariffs on certain semi-conductor products covered by the ITA.

Members urged India and China to bring their trade measures in line with the ITA and to grant duty-free market access for those products.

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