New Delhi (ABC Live): WTO Information Technology Agreement :The Information Technology Agreement (ITA) was concluded by 29 participants at the Singapore Ministerial Conference in December 1996. Since then, the number of participants has grown to 82, representing about 97 per cent of world trade in IT products.
The participants are committed to completely eliminating tariffs on IT products covered by the Agreement. At the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in December 2015, over 50 members concluded the expansion of the Agreement, which now covers an additional 201 products valued at over $1.3 trillion per year.
Director-General Pascal Lamy, in opening the WTO Information Technology Symposium on 28 March 2007, commended the Information Technology Agreement on its tenth anniversary as “a major success” — noting that world exports of ITA products have more than doubled during the past ten years. He said that “as we embark into the last lap of the Doha Development Agenda, it is important to keep in mind the contribution that an ambitious initiative to cut barriers to trade, such as the ITA, can make to development”.
Singapore, 13 December 1996 Ministerial Declaration on Trade in Information Technology Products says, “Ministers,
Representing the following Members of the World Trade Organization (“WTO”), and States or separate customs territories in the process of acceding to the WTO, which have agreed in Singapore on the expansion of world trade in information technology products and which account for well over 80 per cent of world trade in these products (“parties”):
Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu
Considering the key role of trade in information technology products in the development of information industries and in the dynamic expansion of the world economy,
Recognizing the goals of raising standards of living and expanding the production of and trade in goods;
Desiring to achieve maximum freedom of world trade in information technology products;
Desiring to encourage the continued technological development of the information technology industry on a world-wide basis;
Mindful of the positive contribution information technology makes to global economic growth and welfare;
Having agreed to put into effect the results of these negotiations which involve concessions additional to those included in the Schedules attached to the Marrakesh Protocol to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, and
Recognizing that the results of these negotiations also involve some concessions offered in negotiations leading to the establishment of Schedules annexed to the Marrakesh Protocol,
Declare as follows:
- Each party’s trade regime should evolve in a manner that enhances market access opportunities for information technology products.
- Pursuant to the modalities set forth in the Annex to this Declaration, each party shall bind and eliminate customs duties and other duties and charges of any kind, within the meaning of Article II:1(b) of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, with respect to the following:
(a) all products classified (or classifiable) with Harmonized System (1996) (“HS”) headings listed in Attachment A to the Annex to this Declaration; and
(b) all products specified in Attachment B to the Annex to this Declaration, whether or not they are included in Attachment A;
through equal rate reductions of customs duties beginning in 1997 and concluding in 2000, recognizing that extended staging of reductions and, before implementation, expansion of product coverage may be necessary in limited circumstances.
- Ministers express satisfaction about the large product coverage outlined in the Attachments to the Annex to this Declaration. They instruct their respective officials to make good faith efforts to finalize plurilateral technical discussions in Geneva on the basis of these modalities, and instruct these officials to complete this work by 31 January 1997, so as to ensure the implementation of this Declaration by the largest number of participants.
- Ministers invite the Ministers of other Members of the WTO, and States or separate customs territories in the process of acceding to the WTO, to provide similar instructions to their respective officials, so that they may participate in the technical discussions referred to in paragraph 3 above and participate fully in the expansion of world trade in information technology products.
Annex: Modalities and Product Coverage
Attachment A: list of HS headings
Attachment B: list of products