World Trade Organization Could Work Successfully to Eliminate Duties on Tech Products

By Ed Silverstein May 31, 2013

Some two dozen nations may be willing to eliminate duties on technology products valued in the billions of dollars In fact, a possible trade agreement could be reached in some two months’ time that could involve the United States, China, the European Union, and several other nations who take part in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Many tech companies are eager to see such an agreement in place soon. As an example of current duties on tech products, the European Union now imposes a 14 percent tariff on flat-screen displays.

"We're quite optimistic we're going to get this across the finish line by the end of July," John Neuffer, a senior vice president at the Information Technology Industry Council, said in a statement this week.

Additionally, the new agreement would build upon the Information Technology Agreement, which 16 years ago eliminated duties on such products as personal computers, laptops, telephones, fax machines, computer software, and semi-conductors.

"There is no reason logistically why we couldn't wrap up the ITA discussion sooner rather than later," U.S. Ambassador to the WTO, Michael Punke added in regard to the old agreement.

In a related issue, WTO member countries are trying to ensure free trade talks will take place during December in Bali, Indonesia. Technical issues need to be addressed by the end of July to hold the December meeting.

“We will know by then whether Bali is feasible,” Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson commented. “If there is only moderate progress between now and July then time will have beaten us.”

If December talks are held, that would be better than the outcome of the Doha round of trade talks, which fell apart a few years ago.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

TechZone360 Contributor

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