MOEA urges firms to seize opportunities presented …

Taipei, March 16 (CNA) The Ministry of Economic Affairs said Wednesday that local high-tech firms should seize growing business opportunities resulting from the implementation of the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement, also known as the ITA2, under the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The ITA2 is expected to become effective in July to further lower tariffs on IT products produced by WTO member countries, a move which is expected to raise the competitive edge of local high-tech exporters, the MOEA said.

Under a WTO mechanism, 24 TWO members including Taiwan, the United States, Japan, South Korea, China and the European Union concluded negotiations in the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in December to expand the existing Information Technology Agreement, which took effect in 1996.

To help local IT exporters have a better understanding of the ITA expansion, the MOEA said, the ministry has entrusted the Chinese National Federation of Industries (工總) to hold seminars between May 3 and May 5 in Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung to brief local enterprises on the new IT agreement.

The MOEA said that the expansion of the IT agreement will cover a total of 201 high-tech products, about 70 percent of which are expected to enjoy zero tariffs starting from July, with the ratio increasing to 90 percent in three years.

Among the 201 IT products covered by the ITA2 are liquid crystal display devices and components, semiconductors, digital cameras and TV cameras, TV set-top boxes, polarizers, solid-state drives, optical media, GPS navigation equipment, mobile phones and parts, and memory chips. These products have been important exports from Taiwan, helping local high tech firms rake in significant profits, the MOEA added.

According to the MOEA, of the 201 IT items covered by the ITA2, Taiwan sells on average about US$90 billion overseas, and the outbound sales generate a net profit of about UT$820 million a year from tariff cuts.

The ministry said that Taiwan remains competitive in 136 out of the 201 items, or 68 percent of the total in the global market.

In the upcoming seminars, representatives from the MOEA’s Bureau of Foreign Trade, the Office of Trade Negotiations, the Bureau of Industrial Development and the government-sponsored Taiwan External Trade Development Council will provide advice to local exporters who are eying the growing business opportunities under the ITA2.

(By Huang Chiao-wen and Frances Huang)

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