As the World Trade Organization brings heads of state together in Beijing, the long awaited ITA agreement announces a slash on global high-tech tariffs.
The Information Technology Agreement [ITA] between the US and China is expected to be adopted by over 50 other countries, and is yet more evidence of China opening its markets and industries to world-wide deals. This follows yesterday’s agreement to commence with the link between Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges, extending the mainland’s stocks to international investors.
The new ITA deal, a test bed trade agreement for the world’s two super-powers, is an update to the 1996 Information Technology Agreement, which was postponed from November 2013 when China was not prepared to sign off on the details. In an attempt to protect some burgeoning tech industries, China wanted to exclude about 100 product categories including medical devices and next-generation silicon chips. China has relented and the ITA agreement does include these though not flat screens and monitors.
All the countries that sign up to this agreement will not impose tariffs and other trade barriers on most IT products, thereby liberalizing the $2tn annual trade in high-tech products.
Other deals on the horizon that may go more smoothly now the ITA agreement is signed are the plurilateral discussions on the trade in environmental goods with the US, EU and other countries, plus negotiations led by the US covering the $4tn a year global trade in services, which China have voiced an interest in joining.
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