WTO NEWS: SPEECHES — DG ROBERTO AZEVÊDO


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> Roberto Azevêdo’s speeches

  

Thank you Minister Haiashi. Hello everyone.

I am delighted to welcome this agreement.

The original WTO Information Technology Agreement — or ITA — was agreed in 1996. It was an innovative agreement, boosting trade in an important emerging sector.

Since 1996 exports in products covered by that agreement have more than tripled in value.

But, of course, since then new products and technologies have continued to emerge at a phenomenal rate, and this sector has continued to evolve.

This is why, in July this year, this group of WTO members agreed to expand the original ITA by eliminating tariffs on an additional 201 IT products, including:

  • a new generation of semi-conductors
  • GPS navigation systems
  • tools for manufacturing printed circuits
  • telecommunications satellites
  • touch screens,
  • and some state-of-the-art medical products.

20 years ago, most of these products simply did not exist. Today, they are commonplace. This expanded agreement aims to respond to this new reality.

Following months of intensive consultations and negotiations, participants have now closed the deal.

I want to congratulate the participating governments, and all ministers here today on this success.

Trade in the products covered by the agreement is valued at approximately 1.3 trillion dollars each year.

This is larger than global trade in automotive products. Or, to take another example, it is larger than global trade in textiles, clothing, iron and steel combined.

In fact, this deal will eliminate tariffs on approximately 10% of global trade.

As per the plan concluded today, around 65% of tariffs lines will be eliminated in 2016 (accounting for around 88% of imports). By 2019 this will increase to 89% of the tariff lines (and 95% of imports). This will reach 100% over 7 years.

Some of these products currently face very high tariffs. For example, in some markets, the import tariff for video cameras is 35%. For magnetic cards, it is 30%.

This is much higher than the average global tariff of 9%. With this agreement, tariffs will be reduced to zero — and legally locked-in at zero.

So today marks a very significant achievement. Eliminating tariffs on trade of this magnitude will have a huge impact.

It will support lower prices — which will help many other sectors that use IT products as inputs. It will create jobs and help to boost GDP growth around the world. It will improve productivity and market access, and enhance predictability for traders and investors.

This agreement is the first major tariff-cutting deal at the WTO since 1996.

And it comes fast on the heels of the historic Bali package.

We now have two deals in two years which deliver real, economically significant results. 

It shows that members are negotiating.

And it shows that members are prepared to be innovative and creative.

In addition, because it is a WTO agreement, all WTO members will benefit under the most-favoured nation principle. This means that all members can export these 201 products duty-free to each of these markets. And of course they will also feel the knock-on benefits for other sectors. Moreover, the agreement is open to all WTO members to join.

I will continue working with the participants of the ITA as they finalize their plans to implement this agreement.

This result is very welcome. And I am delighted to be marking another outcome of our 10th Ministerial Conference, after ministers approved the membership of Liberia just a few moments ago.  

This breakthrough on the expansion of the ITA was not easily achieved. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of time. But, most importantly, it took compromise and flexibility.

These are crucial ingredients. And I hope that this success will serve to inspire progress elsewhere in our work.

So once again, congratulations to all.

Thank you for listening.

 

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