The European Commission received mandate from Member States in 2009 to expand the Information Technology Agreement ITA. Technical meetings started in May 2012 to create a consolidated list of products for expansion of the ITA. During 2013 Russia has joined the ITA agreement and negotiators are expected to finalise the list of new products that will be covered by the agreement.
What is the problem? International agreements lag behind evolution in technology
The Information Technology Agreement (ITA) of 1997 has achieved tremendous results in promoting the up-take of information technology in Europe and worldwide. As technology evolves and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) goods become increasingly multifunctional, the ITA is at risk of losing relevance to today’s trade and technologies. The ITA needs to be updated to take into account the evolution of technology.
Why is EU action necessary? EU can help boost international export in IT products
World export in IT products has almost tripled since the 90s to $1500 billion in 2010. This accounts for 20% of total world exports of manufactured products. The ITA covers 97% of world trade in IT goods. It includes 70 countries and customs territories. Members eliminate duties and extend these benefits to all World Trade Organisation (WTO) members. Tariff-free trade has offered many developing and transition economies the opportunity to grow by entering global ICT production networks. The agreement currently covers six broad categories of ICT products: computers, telecommunication equipment, semiconductors, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, storage media and scientific instruments.
What has the Commission done until now?
The Commission has completed internal consultations on the revised list of products for the ITA negotiations, following consultations with the ICT industry. Currently, negotiations are being pursued with third countries, among which the ASEAN countries, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the U.S. have expressed interest in updating the product list. Following the ITA Committee meeting on 1 November 2012, the EU pointed out that progress is on-going between members to increase the list of goods covered by the ITA. However, while the EU supports expanding the ITA to new products it also aims to tackle non-tariff barriers. This is proving difficult, as several WTO countries do not support the latter goal of using the ITA to eliminate non-tariff barriers.
The Russian Federation intends to fully join the ITA, and submitted its ITA schedule to the Committee on 1 August 2012.
ITA negotiations have been suspended in November 2013 while participating countries are trying to come to an agreement on the updating of the list of items. More info HERE.