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16 July 1999

WTO Symposium to discuss trade prospects and issues facing the information technology sector

A WTO Symposium on Information Technology on 16 July 1999 will bring together industry representatives and trade officials to discuss prospects and practical trade issues facing the most dynamic sector of world trade.

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The purpose of the IT Symposium is to share information about the dynamism of IT and its future; explain the role of IT in promoting economic growth and development; and highlight the value of the application of IT, drawing on examples from developed and developing countries.

Speakers at the one-day Symposium include representatives from a variety of companies in the IT field such as Motorola, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Macronix, Alcatel, Hitachi, Ericsson, Nortel Networks, and Telsa Telecomunikace. Both developed and developing-country perspectives will be presented by industry representatives from countries across the globe, including Canada, Chinese Taipei, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Estonia, European Communities, India, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, and the United States. Speakers on international standards will include representatives from the International Electrotechnical Commission, the Australian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association, and the Canadian Advisory Council on Electrical Safety.

Director in Charge of the WTO, Mr. David Hartridge, will open the Symposium, which will be chaired by Mr. Heinz Opelz, Director of the Market Access Division of the WTO Secretariat. WTO Chief Economist, Mr. Patrick Low will give an introductory presentation on international trade in IT products.

The Symposium, which will be held at the WTO headquarters in Geneva, is divided into four panels dealing with the following subjects:

Overview of the IT industry, technological advances/trends, innovative business applications;

Contribution of IT to economic growth and development and the role of trade in the mutual reinforcement of global and national IT policies;

Practical problems encountered in IT trade (including the possibility of presenting case studies, e.g. import licensing) and the broader effects of non-tariff measures; and

The implications of current approaches to standards making and conformity assessment (review developments in international standards and other relevant bodies).

For registration information, please contact Ms. Jane Mackenzie of the WTO Secretariat, telephone no. 7395391, fax no. 7395770, or e-mail address itsymposium@wto.org. Journalists interested in attending the Symposium should contact the Information and Media Relations Division, tel. 7395007.

The complete programme of the WTO Information Technology Symposium follows.