European Council Approves IT Trade Deal

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

20 June 2016

The European Council has approved a World Trade Organisation (WTO) proposal to progressively eliminate tariffs on 201 high-demand information technology products by 2019.

More than 50 WTO members agreed to expand the 1996 Information Technology Agreement (ITA) at the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in December 2015. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in favor of the scheme earlier this month.

The Ministerial Declaration issued at Nairobi stated that the first tariff cuts should be implemented on July 1, 2016, with successive reductions to follow in July 2017, July 2018, and effective elimination due no later than July 1, 2019. Products covered by the new ITA include video games consoles, GPS navigation systems, magnetic resonance imaging machines, telecommunications satellites, touch screens, and video cameras. There will be a more gradual phasing out of duties on imports sensitive for the European Union (EU) industry, such as TV screens.

At its June 17 meeting, the European Council, on behalf of the EU, approved the Declaration on the expansion of the ITA and the proposed schedule.

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