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Trade Policy Issues January 23, 2018  
Basic Facts About the Information Technology Agreement: Country and Product Coverage

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The Information Technology Agreement (ITA) is a plurilateral trade agreement that requires participants to eliminate their tariffs on a specific list of information technology (IT) and telecommunications products. The agreement covers approximately 97 percent of world trade in defined IT products, which is currently estimated to exceed $1 trillion.

Products covered under the ITA include computer hardware and peripherals, telecommunications equipment, computer software, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, analytical instruments, and semiconductors and other electronic components.The chart below gives examples of the products in the ITA.

Examples of products covered by the Information Technology Agreement 1
Computer hardware, subassemblies, and peripherals
personal computers
notebooks/ laptops
storage units, such as disc drives
Telecommunications equipment
telephones and answering machines
fax machines
central office and private branch exchange switching apparatus
Computer software
computer software on media including floppy and optical discs
Electronic components
printed circuits
Semiconductor manufacturing and testing equipment
chemical vapor deposition apparatus
sawing, grinding, and polishing machines
dry-etching machines
Office machines
word processing machines
cash registers
automatic teller machines
selected photocopiers and parts
Measuring, testing, and analyzing instruments
flow meters
various instruments for measuring and checking liquids and gasses
Miscellaneous products
silicon wafers
dictionary and translation devices
indicator panels
proximity cards and tags
1 In some, but not all, cases, parts of these products also are included in the ITA.

A complete list of products covered by the ITA can be found in the Annex to the Ministerial Declaration on Trade in Information Technology Products. The Declaration is here.
Attachment A of the Annex lists the Harmonized System (HS) headings or parts thereof to be covered by the ITA;
Attachment B lists specific products to be covered wherever they are classified in the HS.

Originally signed in 1997 by 29 countries or customs territories, including the United States, the ITA now has 46 participants (covering 73 World Trade Organization [WTO] members and states or separate customs territories in the process of acceding to the WTO).

Currently, few Latin American countries participate in the ITA. The United States government is working diligently to increase Latin America's participation in the ITA.

The participants in the Information Technology Agreement as of March 2011
ITA participants must eliminate their tariffs on a most-favored-nation (MFN) basis, meaning that they must extend duty-free treatment to imports from all WTO members, regardless of whether the member benefiting from duty-free treatment is another ITA participant. ITA participants must bind their tariff elimination commitments in the WTO.

During the Uruguay Round negotiations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the electronics sector was one of the so-called “zero-for-zero” sectors for which U.S. trade negotiators hoped to achieve complete elimination of tariffs by major trading partners. This initiative was not realized, however, despite strong support by business interests in the United States, the EU, Canada, and Japan. In January 1995, the IT industry associations of the United States, Europe, and Japan recommended to the G-7 meeting in Brussels on the Global Information Infrastructure (GII) that tariffs in the IT industry be eliminated though the adoption of an information technology agreement. Such an agreement was drafted during a Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 1996 in Singapore, and negotiations on the Information Technology Agreement were concluded in Geneva on March 26, 1997. The United States implemented the ITA domestically in July 1997.


For more information, contact

Fred Aziz
Dorothea Blouin

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