IT tariff talks at WTO break down for now

World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations on an expanded version of the Information Technology Agreement, intended to remove tariffs on a wide range of computer-related products, have fallen apart, according to a US official. The talks collapsed because of differences of opinion on how tariffs covering printed circuit boards, radar navigation equipment and 'IT inputs,' should be treated, but will resume in the fourth quarter this year.

World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations on an expanded version of the Information Technology Agreement, intended to remove tariffs on a wide range of computer-related products, have fallen apart, according to a US Trade Representative (USTR) official.

Negotiators agreed take up the talks again in the fourth quarter this year, said the USTR official, who asked not to be named.

The talks were aimed at expanding the list of products covered by the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), concluded in March last year. Forty-four countries were taking part in the talks for the so-called ITA II, according to the USTR official.

The first the ITA covered about US$600 billion in trade of IT products, according to the WTO.

The talks fell apart because of differences of opinion on how tariffs covering printed circuit boards, radar navigation equipment and "IT inputs," said the USTR official. IT inputs include computer components, the official said.

Another problem was that "the Asian countries, because of their current economic condition, were not able to devote full time the talks and we thought the issue was important enough to go back to later," said the official.

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