Discussions at a World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting might see tariffs on cartridges and other technology “cut to zero” worldwide.
MG Africa reported on the “breakthrough” in talks at the WTO’s ambassadors’ meeting held recently at the European Union Embassy in Geneva, Switzerland. The organisation’s Information Technology Agreement “tentatively agreed” to “eliminate tariffs on an array of technology products”, with the products concerned including “semiconductors, MRI machines, GPS devices, printer cartridges [and] video game consoles”.
The agreement “could unlock” around $1-trillion (€923-billion) in world trade, with tariffs on the products concerned potentially “cut to zero”, as talks begun earlier in July saw initial opposition from Taiwan, China and South Korea. However, some negotiators will “withdraw their opposition” to an extended agreement, and members have “agreed to consider a draft list of covered products”, which will be considered by trade ministers before a final decision at the next meeting in December.
The news site noted that the list of products “could pave the way for a finalised deal that would contribute as much” as $190-billion (€175-billion) to the US’ gross domestic product (GDP) alone, as well as support around 60,000 jobs in the US. The 80 nations that form the WTO’s talks on IT account for around 97 percent of global trade in IT products as well, with “any duty-free terms … applied to all WTO members” when a decision is made on import tariffs.
The process will see negotiators start talks in September on “schedules of concessions”, known as “staging”, which allows nations to “gradually phase in the tariff reductions for certain products deemed too sensitive”. This will then be followed by “technical negotiations” before the WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi from 15 to 18 December, with “the goal of completing the agreement” set for this event.
Roberto Azevedo, director-general of the WTO, stated on his Twitter account after the recent meetings that he was “very optimistic that we’ll have a final successful deal by the end of next week. We have the basis for an agreement”. In turn, US technology industry officials commented that they were “hopeful the deal could enter into force as soon as July 2016”.
The news follows a previous WTO ITA agreement between China and the USA last November, which saw the two nations agree to eliminate technology tariffs at the APEC Summit in Beijing.