The Information Technology Agreement (ITA) is a World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement, which entered into force in 1997. In becoming a party to the Agreement, a country commits to bind and eliminate customs duties on covered goods (e.g., personal computers, computer monitors, computer printers, semiconductors, telecommunications apparatus). To date, 70 countries have joined the ITA, representing more than 97 per cent of global trade in the high-tech sector.
The ITA is an important example of a successful international trade agreement – it has expanded access to the IT products that power the global economy, lowered prices for businesses and consumers, and facilitated worldwide innovation and digitalization. Its undermining is of concern both to global IT/ICT companies that are ICC members, but also to the broader business community represented by ICC that benefits from free trade in these products. Therefore, ICC opposes any efforts to unravel, whether in spirit or letter, the ITA and undermine the benefits it has produced.
In light of the above, ICC makes the following recommendations:
- to support continued efforts at the bilateral and multilateral level to address the restrictive approach of some members and ensure that ITA products continue to enjoy bound, duty-free treatment;
- to ensure that all current and future ITA participants respect and are held accountable for their commitments to “bind and eliminate” customs duties on goods covered by the Agreement;
- to encourage ITA participants to pursue all avenues to maintain the effectiveness of the ITA in the long-term and, to the greatest extent possible, support ITA participants’ efforts in this regard; and
- to ensure that the letter and spirit of the ITA is maintained and that its benefits are applied to all products covered by the Agreement.