About the ITA
The original WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) was established in 1997. In 2015, Members agreed to expand coverage to 201 more products in an agreement known as ITA-2. The WTO estimates annual trade in the added products is over A$1.3 trillion — approximately 10% per cent of total global trade.
The ITA now has 82 participants, covering 97 per cent of the global IT products trade. Lower tariffs mean more affordable IT products for businesses and consumers.
What IT is covered by the agreement?
The original ITA eliminated tariffs on products including:
- computers and peripheral equipment
- electrical components such as semiconductors
- computer software
- telecommunications equipment
- analytical instruments.
The expanded ITA covers products including:
- new-generation semiconductors
- GPS navigation systems
- machine tools for manufacturing printed circuits
- telecommunications satellites
- touch screens
- consumer electronics like headphones, loud speakers, amplifiers and video game consoles
- medical devices like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, electrocardiograph (ECG) machines and bionic ear implants.
The ITA tariff commitments are made on a most-favoured nation (MFN) basis — participants must extend their commitments to all WTO Members, regardless of whether they've signed up to the ITA.
The ITA also provides for a work program to review non-tariff barriers (NTBs), which affect trade in IT products.
Members have agreed to remove the majority of the tariffs on the 201 additional ITA products within three years from 2016–17.
The treaty amendment to bind the expanded ITA tariff commitments in Australia’s WTO Schedule of Concessions was tabled in parliament on 31 August 2016. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) conducted an inquiry into the expanded ITA and a National Interest Analysis before the tariff commitments were bound in the WTO.
Australia will phase out tariffs on the expanded list of products by 2021.
Australia imports around A$19 billion worth of goods covered under the expanded ITA and exports around A$3.6 billion. Eliminating tariffs on these goods could mean:
- lower prices for Australian consumers
- lower prices for businesses importing ITA products
- reduced barriers for Australian exporters.