The WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) is an undertaking to liberalise global trade in IT products. The Agreement entered into force on 1 July 1997 with 29 original signatories, including Australia. The Agreement now comprises 75 participants which cover 97 percent of global trade in IT products. In joining the ITA, participants commit to eliminating tariffs on all products covered under the Agreement, including computers and peripheral equipment, electrical components such as semiconductors, computer software, telecommunications equipment and analytical instruments among other products. The tariff commitments undertaken in the Agreement are made on a most-favoured nation (MFN) basis, meaning participants must extend their commitments to all WTO Members. The Agreement also provides for a work programme to review non-tariff barriers (NTBs) which impact upon trade in IT products.
Negotiations to review the ITA have recently commenced. These negotiations will focus on:
- Expanding the product coverage of the ITA. An expanded ITA could potentially include consumer devices and new generation multi-function products (e.g. smart phones, digital cameras, set top boxes, multi-function printers).
- Increasing the membership of the ITA to include key IT markets such as Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and South Africa.
- Developing non-binding principles on NTBs. These principles may cover: the use of international standards; conformity assessment procedures related to the safety, electromagnetic compatibility, and radio emissions of IT products; registration requirements for IT products; good regulatory practices for the IT sector; and, transparency of regulatory measures affecting IT products.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade welcomes submissions from interested individuals and groups on the potential outcomes and impacts of an expanded ITA. Submissions, or requests for further information about the negotiations, should be sent to email@example.com.
All submissions will be made publicly available on the DFAT website unless otherwise specified.