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WTO members agree deal on IT product tariffs

The EU, US and China, along with 50 other members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have agreed to remove tariffs from 201 IT products.17 Dec 2015

The 53 countries involved include developed and developing nations and account for 90% of world trade in the products covered. However, all 162 member countries will benefit from the agreement as they will all gain duty-free access to the markets of the countries who signed the agreement, the WTO said.

Under the deal, tariffs will be removed from a range of products including medical equipment, telecommunications satellites, semiconductors, touch screens and GPS devices.

"I am delighted to mark this breakthrough here today at the Ministerial Conference," said WTO director general Roberto Azevêdo.

"This is a very significant achievement. Annual trade in these 201 products is valued at $1.3 trillion per year, and accounts for approximately 10% of total global trade. Eliminating tariffs on trade of this magnitude will have a huge impact. It will support lower prices, including in many other sectors that use IT products as inputs, it will create jobs, and it will help to boost GDP growth around the world," he said.

The deal is an extension of an Information Technology Agreement (ITA) made in 1996, and is the biggest tariff-cutting deal by the WTO in almost two decades.

The list of 201 products was originally agreed in Julywhen ITA participants negotiated the reductions for each product and timeframes to eliminate the tariffs.

Approximately 65% of tariff lines will be fully eliminated by 1 July 2016, and most of the remainder will be completely phased out in four stages over three years. Almost all imports of the relevant products will be duty free by 2019, the WTO said.