Friday, July 26, 2013

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International business groups push China to lower tech tariffs

More than thirty global business groups are urging China to be more flexible in negotiating the expansion of a key trade agreement that would lower tariffs on electronic products.

The group, which includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter to Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang calling for China to reduce the list of technology products it objects to adding to the agreement, known as the Information Technology Agreement or ITA.

Under the World Trade Organization, countries use the ITA to trade many high-tech products and electronics without tariffs. But the agreement, signed 16 years ago, hasn't been amended since and newer technology products are excluded. Exclusions include DVDs, Bluetooth devices, GPS technology, flat panel displays, advanced semiconductor materials and production equipment.

"This agreement is easily the most important trade agreement right now [for our sector] that's been negotiated for the past decade," said Sage Chandler, a vice president of the U.S.-based Consumer Electronics Association, one of the letter's signatories.

Talks to expand the ITA broke down last week in Geneva, Switzerland. In the letter, the businesses from the U.S., Japan, Europe, Canada, Vietnam, Malaysia and other countries said China's objection to a large number of items under negotiation had was 'the chief obstacle" to completing negotiations within the year.

For more of the Wall Street Journal story:

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