INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AGREEMENT
Mr Don Spedding (Australia), Chair of the ITA Committee, and Mr Loh Jia Jie (Singapore), Coordinator of the ITA Expansion Group, expressed their warmest congratulations to the delegation of Timor-Leste on its new participation and looked forward to working closely with Timor-Leste on ITA-related activities in the near future.
The approved ITA Schedules will now be incorporated into Timor-Leste's WTO goods schedule, which will then form part of its final WTO accession package. Timor-Leste is one of the LDCs in the final stage of becoming a member of the WTO.
On behalf of the Government of Timor-Leste, H.E. Mr Francisco Kalbuadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, thanked all ITA participants and the Secretariat for the support extended to his team in the process of its negotiation to participate in the ITA and the ITA Expansion Agreement. H.E Mr Miguel Manetelu, Minister of Transport and Communication of the Timor-Leste elaborated that: “The workshops and training sessions provided have been invaluable in equipping us with the necessary knowledge and expertise required to engage effectively with the complexities of this plurilateral agreement.”
He added: “As we stand at the threshold of this approval process, we do so with a profound sense of accomplishment, collaboration and respect for the principles of the ITA and ITA Expansion. This endeavour has truly been a collective effort, and we are humbled by the support we have received from all quarters”.
Deputy Director-General Xiangchen Zhang, in his remarks, commented on Timor-Leste's efficient participation process in the ITA, considering that it had only submitted its letter of intention on the 27 February 2023, and that the ITA Committee had already approved its Schedule by 19 October.
He attributed this smooth and efficient process to the Government of Timor-Leste's great determination, to the hard work of the country's negotiating team, to the solid support from ITA participants, and to the close cooperation between Timor-Leste's team and the Secretariat. “Without any of these elements, the whole participation process would surely not have been completed in just eight months,” DDG Zhang said.
According to Timor-Leste's ITA commitments, of 381 ITA‑related tariff lines, duties on 242 products, representing 64%, will be fully eliminated upon its accession to the WTO, providing immediate market access for foreign exporters. Duties on another 114 ITA products will be eliminated on 1 January 2027. As for the ITA Expansion Agreement, of a total of 588 tariff lines, import duties on 240 will be fully eliminated upon accession, and those on another 333 products will be reduced to zero after three years.
DDG Zhang said: “We are pleased to see that Timor-Leste has very clearly chosen to embrace trade opening. And the government has done so because it believes that the multilateral trading system works. Time then now, for WTO members to fulfil the promises of trade opening by ensuring that Timor-Leste and its people enjoy the tangible benefits, and reap the rewards, of their trade opening.”