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Leaders Agree to Cut Tariffs on $1.3 Trillion of Tech Goods

  • Reduction in import fees may add $190 billion to global GDP
  • Process to cut tariffs will finish by 2024, WTO says

Global trade leaders have agreed to reduce import charges on 201 information-technology products in the first major World Trade Organization tariff-cutting deal in almost 20 years.

Japanese Minister for the Economy Motoo Hayashi announced the reductions on Wednesday at the trade body’s 10th ministerial conference in the Kenya capital, Nairobi.

The expansion of the Information Technology Agreement, which was originally concluded in 1996, could contribute as much as $190 billion to global gross domestic product. Annual trade in these 201 products is valued at over $1.3 trillion per year and accounts for approximately 10 percent of total global trade, said Roberto Azevedo, director general of the WTO.

“It will create jobs and help to boost GDP around the world,” Azevedo said.

Among the products covered in the agreement are new-generation semi-conductors, GPS navigation systems, medical products including magnetic resonance imaging machines, machine tools for manufacturing printed circuits, telecommunications satellites and touch screens, the WTO said in a statement on its website.

Negotiations were conducted by 53 WTO members, including developed nations and developing countries, which account for about 90 percent of world trade in these products, the trade body said. The ITA requires participants to eliminate import tariffs on technology products on a most-favored-nation basis, meaning that any duty-free terms are expected to be applied to all WTO members.

Tariffs on 65 percent of products will be eliminated July 1 next year and tariff cuts will be concluded by 2024, Azevedo said.

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