GENEVA -- Negotiators seeking to expand product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) are here in Geneva again this week and their work to eliminate tariffs on a broad swath of tech products has significantly intensified.
For starters, more ITA member countries are at the table now, with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Iceland joining the effort to shape the list of products under consideration for an expanded ITA. This core group of negotiators now numbers 25 countries: Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, the European Union, Guatemala, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Mauritius, Montenegro, Norway, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Israel, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States.
Two big topics are under discussion this week. First, negotiators are engaged more deeply in regard to which products should actually be included in the expanded ITA (which hasn’t been updated since the ITA was created 16 years ago). More specifically, countries have pivoted toward intensified talks on “sensitivities,” where member economies have defensive interests. While an over-emphasis on sensitivities has its risks, this shift demonstrates a greater seriousness to deal with some of the more difficult proposed product lines that must be sorted out if the negotiators are to get across the finish line by the end of July.
In addition, there are active talks underway this week about establishing support levels for products that will survive beyond the next round in late June. While these levels need to be set in a manner that ensures an ambitious outcome, this is also a necessary filtering step to get the negotiations into the final lap.
As in the past, U.S. industry is well represented at the Geneva negotiations. Joining ITI in meetings with numerous government delegations are: AdvaMed, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Entertainment Software Association, the Liquid Crystal Polymer Coalition, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Semiconductor Industry Association, and the Telecommunications Industry Association. Several major U.S. companies also have joined us in supporting ITA expansion, as have the Japanese trade associations, JEITA and JBMIA.
Finally, global industry has renewed its support of the initiative this week with the release of an updated global industry statement calling for an ambitious outcome by the end of July. That statement now has 70 associations on it from 29 countries from across the globe. New signatories include DIGITALEUROPE and associations from Costa Rica, Lithuania, Russia, and Vietnam. The full statement, with a list of signatories, is available on our website -- Global Tech Industry Supports ITA Expansion.
We continue to drive the point that expanding the ITA would be a major boon for the global economy, which the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation has documented.
|[A]n expanded ITA could remove tariffs on at least an additional $800 billion in ICT trade globally, a 20 percent increase over the $4 trillion now covered annually. Moreover, ITIF estimates that ITA expansion would increase U.S. exports of ICT products by $2.8 billion, boost revenues of U.S. ICT firms by $10 billion, and support creation of approximately 60,000 new U.S. jobs throughout the economy.|
Whether in the U.S. or around the world, ITA expansion means economic growth and job expansion, plain and simple.
All in all, momentum and enthusiasm continues to build for making the ground-breaking ITA even stronger and more commercially significant. And, of course, there is still much work to be done before Geneva’s cool spring air gives to way warmer summer weather in July.