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WTO Members Agree to Cut Tariffs on IT Products: World Trade Organization

On Friday, July 24, 2015, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced that more than 50 of its member countries had agreed to cut tariffs on hundreds of information technology (IT) products, including semiconductors, MRI machines, GPS devices, telecommunications satellites and solid-state hard drives. The 201 products featured in the deal account for tariffs in excess of $1.3 trillion and account for roughly 7 percent of global trade.

The agreed list of products and draft declaration expand the scope of the 1996 Information Technology Agreement (ITA); therefore, this new agreement is known as the “ITA 2.” The ITA 2 was formally circulated to WTO members at the WTO General Council meeting on July 28th, and the negotiators will spend the next several months working out details and a timetable for tariff elimination. The negotiators hope to present the ITA 2 for the 10th Ministerial Conference in December 2015.

If all goes according to plan within the next few months, the ITA 2 and the tariff cuts could enter into force as early as July 1, 2016. However, five of the 54 countries – Taiwan, Colombia, Turkey, Mauritius, and Thailand – initially failed to sign the agreement, leaving the ITA 2 short of the 90 percent of WTO members needed to make it binding on all 161 WTO member countries. Taiwan and Thailand confirmed the ITA 2 on July 28, and it is expected the remaining countries will agree by the Ministerial Conference in December.

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About this Author

Kathleen Murphy, International trade Lawyer, Drinker Biddle

Kathleen M. Murphy counsels clients on maximizing trade benefits, making informed global procurement decisions and developing domestic and international trade compliance programs. She represents clients in duty-recovery initiatives and customs challenges concerning tariff classification, valuation, Free Trade Agreements and country of origin determinations, among other areas. She guides clients through compliance audits and validations, as well as penalty investigations conducted by U.S. or foreign customs authorities. She also represents clients in...

Mollie Sitkowski, Drinker Biddle Law Firm, Chicago, Trade Law Attorney

Mollie D. Sitkowski assists clients in ensuring their internal processes meet Customs' "reasonable care" standard. She assists clients with various aspects of trade law, including valuation, classification, free trade agreements, country of origin determinations, and auditing their import documentation to identify potential issues and risk areas. Mollie also supports clients with export compliance, including advising on export screening and classification, and filing license classification requests and voluntary disclosures with the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC). She works with clients to obtain beneficial outcomes from Customs' administrative processes by filing PEAs and Protests, submitting ruling requests, and filing prior disclosures. Additionally, Mollie assists in drafting briefs to the Court of International Trade and Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit concerning tariff classification disputes for firm clients.

In General. Mollie earned her law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law, where she was a Chicago-Kent Honors Scholar and on the Dean’s List. While in law school, Mollie was a paralegal with the firm’s Customs & Trade practice. She earned her bachelor’s degree cum laude from University of San Diego.