WTO reaches deal to cut tariffs on IT products

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WTO reaches deal to cut tariffs on IT products

All 161 member nations to benefit from trillion-dollar agreement.

The World Trade Organisation has reached a a deal to remove tariffs on nearly 201 IT products over the next three years, in a move that is expected to benefit Australian high-tech exporters.

Trade ministers from 54 WTO member countries willl now work on how to implement the accord, and present their plans by December this year. 

Products covered by the agreement include next-generation semiconductors, GPS technology for navigation, MRI machines and other medical equipment, telco satellites and touch screens.

The deal also includes a commitment to tackle non-tariff barriers in IT. More products could be added to the list and have duty removed or reduced, the WTO said.

The tariff-slashing on IT products is the first such move in 18 years, according to WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo.

It represents an expansion of the 1996 WTO information technology agreement (ITA). The new deal had been under negotiation since 2012.

The products specified in the arrangement are valued at US$1.3 trillion (A$1.79 trillion) annually - around 7 percent of global trade, making the deal bigger than automotive products or textiles, clothing, iron and steel combined.

The WTO has 161 member states, including Australia. Azevêdo said all will benefit from the agreement, which creates duty-free access in the markets that are eliminating tariffs on IT products.

China, the world's largest technology good exporter, is expected to benefit by around A$17 billion annually as the tariffs disappear.

Australia has been a WTO member since 1995 and was one of the original 29 members that started negotiating tariff removal on IT products in 1996.

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