After more than two years of negotiations, the effort to expand product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) is now on the verge of a successful conclusion. Negotiators from the participating economies converge on Geneva on Thursday, Dec. 4, to begin what we hope will be a final round of talks at the World Trade Organization.
Following a major breakthrough on the sidelines of last month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in Beijing, industry expectations are running high that an ambitious ITA expansion outcome is within reach at the next round of talks.
In fact, over 80 industry associations from around the globe released a statement today calling on the negotiators to “seize the moment and finally conclude a strong tariff-elimination agreement…[that] would represent an historic triumph for global trade and help restore confidence in the World Trade Organization’s ability to deliver tangible negotiating results that lead to tangible market opening.”
This is not to say we are looking at a slam-dunk. The Beijing breakthrough paved the way for getting everyone back to Geneva, but there is still significant work to do to bring all 54 parties at the negotiating table to a consensus on a final list of products to be included in the expansion deal.
The industry statement released today also calls on the negotiators “to limit product sensitivities so an ambitious result can be achieved” during the upcoming round. The benefits of ITA expansion will be sweeping and significant for growth, jobs, and innovation the world over. We urge negotiators not to lose sight of this over-arching reality and to work constructively and pragmatically as they sort through the remaining questions over which products make it across the finish line.
The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) will be in Geneva en masse pressing for a strong conclusion, along with several other U.S.-based associations, including AdvaMed, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Liquid Crystal Polymers Coalition, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the Semiconductor Industry Association. We will also be joined by other associations from around the world, such as DigitalEurope, the Interactive Software Federation of Europe, the Japan Business Machine and Information System Industries Association, and the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association.
Since the ITA was established 17 years ago, not a single additional product line has been added to it, even though myriad new tech products have emerged on the market during the intervening years that are not covered by the agreement. The negotiators have been at it now for over two years. The momentum and the moment for a deal are upon us. It’s time to bring this trade agreement to a successful conclusion.