Friday, July 31, 2015

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WTO makes deal to drop tariffs on $1.3 trillion worth of tech products

The World Trade Organization finalized a list of 201 information technology products to be freed from import tariffs in a $1.3 trillion deal on Friday, but is still short of the number of countries needed to put it into force.

Once in force, the agreement will update the WTO's 18-year-old Information Technology Agreement and add the 201 products to the list of goods covered by zero-tariff and duty-free trade.

Removing tariffs on trade worth $1.3 trillion is expected to give a $190 billion boost to the world economy. The agreement will allow consumers to pay less for products such as computers, touch-screen devices, and games consoles, and companies will see cuts in the cost of machine tools and components, giving a boost to global economies.

"Today's agreement is a landmark," WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a statement.

However, five of the 54 WTO members that negotiated the deal - Taiwan, Turkey, Thailand, Colombia and Mauritius - failed to sign up, leaving

Photo credit: Reuters/Ruben Sprich

the deal short of a quorum, measured as 90 percent of world trade in those products, needed to bring it into force for all 161 WTO members.

"The majority have already confirmed their participation. We expect those participants who didn't, that they will soon," Azevedo told reporters. "And others who haven't even participated before have expressed their interest in joining."

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