Trade Policy Staff Committee Seeks Comments on Expansion of the Information Technology Agreement

On May 6, 2011, the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) posted a notice in the Federal Register seeking comments on whether the U.S. should undertake negotiations to expand the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and, if so: (1) Which additional information and communications technology (ICT) products the U.S. should seek to include and provide duty-free treatment under the ITA, including both products that existed when the ITA was concluded in 1996 but that were not covered under the agreement as well as products that have been developed since then; and (2) which U.S. trading partners that are significant producers or consumers of ICT products that are not currently participants in the ITA the United States should seek to have join the ITA. 

Currently, there are 73 ITA signatories, representing appx. 97 percent of world trade in ITA products.  The ITA requires participants to eliminate import duties on covered products. The elimination of duties under the agreement has helped to generate substantial growth in ICT trade. Industry sources estimate that global trade in products currently covered under the ITA grew from $1.2 trillion in 1996 to $4.0 trillion in 2008.

The ITA currently covers computers and computer equipment, semiconductors and integrated circuits, computer software products, telecommunications equipment, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, and computer-based analytical instruments. The list of covered products has not been expanded since the ITA was concluded in 1996.