WTO deal to scrap tariffs on high-tech devices approved by MEPs

Legislation | | MIC Customs Solutions |

MEPs have given their backing to a WTO agreement to scrap customs duties on 201 high-tech devices.

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) have voted in favour of a new World Trade Organization (WTO) deal that will bring an end to customs duties on a number of high-tech devices.

The EU worked with 24 countries - including Japan, China, the US, Australia, Canada and South Korea - to thrash out the expanded WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which will abolish trade tariffs in 201 high-demand IT products.

Following a vote, the European Parliament backed German MEP Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowoh's consent recommendation by a margin of 529 votes to 110, with 37 abstentions.

The new WTO ITA is being positioned as the biggest tariff-cutting deal in WTO history. Included in its purview are videogame consoles, GPS navigation systems, magnetic resonance imaging machines, telecommunications satellites, touchscreens and video cameras.

Customs charges will be reduced from July 1st 2016 and eliminated entirely by the same date in 2019, though duties on imports that are sensitive for EU industry - such as TV screens - will be phased out more gradually.

The value of EU exports of products covered by the ITA is currently €189 billion, with the European Commission estimating the likely gain to exporters between €5 billion and €8.3 billion, when factoring in the benefits European businesses will glean by being able to import development hardware more cheaply.

Ms Quisthoudt-Rowoh said: "Through the revision and expansion of the ITA, now the new generation of modern IT products can also benefit from customs facilitation.

"This is an important milestone for the WTO, and Europe was the driving force for it. European companies are protected by these global trade facilitation measures from unfair competition."