WITSA Applauds Expansion of Landmark IT Agreement

WTOVienna, Virginia: The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) applauds the tentative agreement reached among World Trade Organization (WTO) members in Geneva, Switzerland on July 24th to expand the product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). The expanded ITA is slated to be adopted at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi December 15-18, 2015 and will go into force on July 1, 2016.

The ITA expansion is estimated to add an additional $190 billion annually to the global GDP through expanded trade in tech products. The total value of products now covered by the ITA amounts to $1.3 trillion, more than global trade in automotive products — or trade in textiles, clothing, iron and steel combined. Among the products covered in this agreement are new-generation semi-conductors, GPS navigation systems, medical products which include magnetic resonance imaging machines, machine tools for manufacturing printed circuits, telecommunications satellites and touch screens.

"WITSA has long been a strong supporter of the ITA, since its inception in 1997", stated WITSA Secretary General Dr. Jim Poisant. Poisant added that WITSA had called for an expansion of the ITA coverage in its September 2013 Statement of Policy on International Trade in ICT Goods and Services[1] as well: "In the absence of progress towards a comprehensive agreement as proposed at the WTO Ministerial Meeting at Doha in November 2001, WITSA urges all WTO member nations to build upon existing foundation agreements, such as GATS and TRIPS. This can be achieved through all WTO members acceding to agreements negotiated under the auspices of, and enforced by, the WTO, such as the ITA, and expanding its coverage in line with technological change."

"The success of the ITA expansion initiative is the first major tariff-cutting deal at the WTO in 18 years" said WITSA Public Policy Chairman R. Chandrashekhar (NASSCOM). "This marks the beginning of a new trade environment which offers new opportunities to open markets based on multilateral trade principles such as most-favored-nation (MFN), national treatment, reciprocity and uniformity", added Mr. Chandrashekhar. "While the days of sweeping trade initiatives such as the Doha Development Agenda may be over, the ITA expansion gives renewed hope and optimism that sectoral agreements in the areas of services and environment goods can be successfully concluded as well."

Chandrashekhar continued that technology adoption has brought huge gains in the post internet global economy. Trade agreements such as the ITA offer vast new opportunities for businesses to drive faster adoption and access to the global marketplace. There is a compelling economic case to support ongoing efforts that enable continuing global trade liberalization. Progress to-date has resulted in significant increases in the global distribution of income with substantial benefits accruing to all nations – developed countries, emerging economies and especially to some of the poorest nations”.

“We urge the governments of all nations to take advantage of the current momentum to redouble their efforts to establish and implement multilateral trade liberalization under the auspices of the WTO”, said WITSA Chairman Santiago Gutierrez.

See the PDF

[1] https://www.witsa.org/saopaulo2013/WITSA_Statement_of_Policy_on_International_Trade_Sept2013.pdf

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