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New WTO Information Technology Agreement Expansion to Eliminate 200 Duties on Consumer Goods

At a ministerial meeting in Nairobi, Kenya this week, the United States and more than 50 countries at the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed to eliminate duties on 201 high-tech goods as part of an expansion to the Information Technology Agreement (ITA).

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) said in a statement that the expansion—the WTO’s first major tariff elimination in 18 years—will cut tariffs on roughly $1.3 trillion in annual global IT product exports.

Moreover, the expansion will reduce costs for manufacturers that rely on information and communications technology products as components and inputs for their respective business functions.

“Expanding the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) to cover a wide array of additional products promises to be a major boost to U.S. technology exports and the jobs that support them,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, said. “It’s great news for the American workers and businesses that design, manufacture, and export state-of-the-art technology and information products, ranging from high-tech healthcare devices to advanced semiconductors to software media.”

The ITA was originally concluded in 1996, but the scope of the agreement was never updated. Now, according to USTR, more than $180 billion in annual American tech exports won’t face tariffs in key world markets, including China.

In a statement welcoming the ITA Expansion, The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) said, “By eliminating duties, which today are as high as 30 percent on many common consumer products, the agreement will save consumers in the United States millions of dollars, while also creating new opportunities for American businesses around the world.”

Stephen Ezell, vice president for global innovation policy at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, told The Hill this week’s deal is long overdue.

“Completion of this agreement is not just a win for exporters,” Ezell said. “It is also a win for the millions of potential new users around the world who can now access high-tech products at lower costs.”