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IT Industry Associations from Japan, the United States and Europe Express Desire for the Future of WTO ITA

TOKYO, JANUARY 23, 2007... The Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA), in cooperation with industry associations from the United States of America and Europe, held a workshop on Information Technology Agreement (ITA) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 18, 2007.

In this workshop, industry associations from Japan, the United States and Europe explained their concern that discrepancies in interpretation of product coverage of the ITA by some ITA Member Countries have the potential to undermine the success of the Agreement.  In addition, all associations represented at the workshop expressed the common desire that sophisticated, leading edge products with new functions incorporating technological developments and consumer needs should be covered by the ITA.

This workshop, held with the support of the WTO ITA Committee Chair and national governments, was the first attempt by the industry to directly present its concerns and wishes to ITA Member Countries.

In addition to JEITA as the Japan representative, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) represented the United States, and the European Information, Communications and Consumer Electronics Technology Industry Associations (EICTA) and European Semiconductor Industry Association (EECA-ESIA) represented the European industry.  More than 100 people attended, including representatives of national governments such as Japan, the United States, the European Union, the People's Republic of China and India. 

The ITA was concluded in December 1996 at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Singapore with the objective of eliminating tariffs on IT products, including computers, semiconductors, telecommunications equipment and semiconductor manufacturing devices, and thereby enhancing market access opportunities and contributing to the advancement of the global economy and standard of living.  To date, ITA holds 69 Member Countries, covering 98% of information technology (IT) trade.  However, the ITA has not been reviewed since its enactment in light of technological developments in IT-related fields.  As such, uncertainty has arisen as to which products, originally specified in HS96, are covered under the ITA and some of the technically advanced version of the ITA products are being, or are in danger of being excluded from the duty free coverage of ITA.

This workshop provided an extremely valuable opportunity to express the industry's concerns and desires directly to government representatives.  The participating industry associations hope that the governments of ITA Member Countries will undertake maintenance activities on the Agreement, including the establishment of unified interpretations and periodical reviews of covered products, so that the Agreement will be pursued effectively in line with its original objectives.

Attachment: Industry Case for Maintenance of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) (pdf)

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