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Information Technology Agreement
Concluded during the "built-in agenda" period between the Uruguay and Doha rounds, this is a "critical mass" agreement that is outside the single undertaking of the WTO.

 

 

 


Ministers,

  Representing the following Members of the World Trade Organization (“WTO”), and States or separate customs territories in the process of acceding to the WTO, which have agreed in Singapore on the expansion of world trade in information technology products and which account for well over 80 per cent of world trade in these products (“parties”):

Australia     

Canada     

European Communities   

Hong Kong    

Iceland      

Indonesia     

Japan      

Korea    

Norway     

Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu

Singapore

Switzerland[1]

Turkey

United States

  Considering the key role of trade in information technology products in the development of information industries and in the dynamic expansion of the world economy,

  Recognizing the goals of raising standards of living and expanding the production of and trade in goods;

  Desiring to achieve maximum freedom of world trade in information technology products;

  Desiring to encourage the continued technological development of the information technology industry on a world-wide basis;

  Mindful of the positive contribution information technology makes to global economic growth and welfare;

  Having agreed to put into effect the results of these negotiations which involve concessions additional to those included in the Schedules attached to the Marrakesh Protocol to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, and

  Recognizing that the results of these negotiations also involve some concessions offered in negotiations leading to the establishment of Schedules annexed to the Marrakesh Protocol,

  Declare as follows:

1. Each party’s trade regime should evolve in a manner that enhances market access opportunities for information technology products.

2. Pursuant to the modalities set forth in the Annex to this Declaration, each party shall bind and eliminate customs duties and other duties and charges of any kind, within the meaning of Article II:1(b) of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, with respect to the following:

(a) all products classified (or classifiable) with Harmonized System (1996) (“HS”) headings listed in Attachment A to the Annex to this Declaration; and

(b) all products specified in Attachment B to the Annex to this Declaration, whether or not they are included in Attachment A;

through equal rate reductions of customs duties beginning in 1997 and concluding in 2000, recognizing that extended staging of reductions and, before implementation, expansion of product coverage may be necessary in limited circumstances.

3. Ministers express satisfaction about the large product coverage outlined in the Attachments to the Annex to this Declaration. They instruct their respective officials to make good faith efforts to finalize plurilateral technical discussions in Geneva on the basis of these modalities, and instruct these officials to complete this work by 31 January 1997, so as to ensure the implementation of this Declaration by the largest number of participants.

4. Ministers invite the Ministers of other Members of the WTO, and States or separate customs territories in the process of acceding to the WTO, to provide similar instructions to their respective officials, so that they may participate in the technical discussions referred to in paragraph 3 above and participate fully in the expansion of world trade in information technology products.

Annex: Modalities and Product Coverage

   Attachment A: list of HS headings

   Attachment B: list of products

  ANNEX

  Modalities and Product Coverage

  Any Member of the World Trade Organization, or State or separate customs territory in the process of acceding to the WTO, may participate in the expansion of world trade in information technology products in accordance with the following modalities:

1. Each participant shall incorporate the measures described in paragraph 2 of the Declaration into its schedule to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, and, in addition, at either its own tariff line level or the Harmonized System (1996) (“HS”) 6-digit level in either its official tariff or any other published versions of the tariff schedule, whichever is ordinarily used by importers and exporters. Each participant that is not a Member of the WTO shall implement these measures on an autonomous basis, pending completion of its WTO accession, and shall incorporate these measures into its WTO market access schedule for goods.

2. To this end, as early as possible and no later than 1 March 1997 each participant shall provide all other participants a document containing (a) the details concerning how the appropriate duty treatment will be provided in its WTO schedule of concessions, and (b) a list of the detailed HS headings involved for products specified in Attachment A. These documents will be reviewed and approved on a consensus basis and this review process shall be completed no later than 1 April 1997. As soon as this review process has been completed for any such document, that document shall be submitted as a modification to the Schedule of the participant concerned, in accordance with the Decision of 26 March 1980 on Procedures for Modification and Rectification of Schedules of Tariff Concessions (BISD 27S/25).

(a) The concessions to be proposed by each participant as modifications to its Schedule shall bind and eliminate all customs duties and other duties and charges of any kind on information technology products as follows:

(i) elimination of such customs duties shall take place through rate reductions in equal steps, except as may be otherwise agreed by the participants. Unless otherwise agreed by the participants, each participant shall bind all tariffs on items listed in the Attachments no later than 1 July 1997, and shall make the first such rate reduction effective no later than 1 July 1997, the second such rate reduction no later than 1 January 1998, and the third such rate reduction no later than 1 January 1999, and the elimination of customs duties shall be completed effective no later than 1 January 2000. The participants agree to encourage autonomous elimination of customs duties prior to these dates. The reduced rate should in each stage be rounded off to the first decimal; and

(ii) elimination of such other duties and charges of any kind, within the meaning of Article II:1(b) of the General Agreement, shall be completed by 1 July 1997, except as may be otherwise specified in the participant’s document provided to other participants for review.

(b) The modifications to its Schedule to be proposed by a participant in order to implement its binding and elimination of customs duties on information technology products shall achieve this result:

(i) in the case of the HS headings listed in Attachment A, by creating, where appropriate, sub-divisions in its Schedule at the national tariff line level; and

(ii) in the case of the products specified in Attachment B, by attaching an annex to its Schedule including all products in Attachment B, which is to specify the detailed HS headings for those products at either the national tariff line level or the HS 6-digit level.

  Each participant shall promptly modify its national tariff schedule to reflect the modifications it has proposed, as soon as they have entered into effect.

3. Participants shall meet periodically under the auspices of the Council on Trade in Goods to review the product coverage specified in the Attachments, with a view to agreeing, by consensus, whether in the light of technological developments, experience in applying the tariff concessions, or changes to the HS nomenclature, the Attachments should be modified to incorporate additional products, and to consult on non-tariff barriers to trade in information technology products. Such consultations shall be without prejudice to rights and obligations under the WTO Agreement.

4. Participants shall meet as soon as practicable and in any case no later than 1 April 1997 to review the state of acceptances received and to assess the conclusions to be drawn therefrom. Participants will implement the actions foreseen in the Declaration provided that participants representing approximately 90 per cent of world trade[2] in information technology products have by then notified their acceptance, and provided that the staging has been agreed to the participants’ satisfaction. In assessing whether to implement actions foreseen in the Declaration, if the percentage of world trade represented by participants falls somewhat short of 90 per cent of world trade in information technology products, participants may take into account the extent of the participation of States or separate customs territories representing for them the substantial bulk of their own trade in such products. At this meeting the participants will establish whether these criteria have been met.

5. Participants shall meet as often as necessary and no later than 30 September 1997 to consider any divergence among them in classifying information technology products, beginning with the products specified in Attachment B. Participants agree on the common objective of achieving, where appropriate, a common classification for these products within existing HS nomenclature, giving consideration to interpretations and rulings of the Customs Co-operation Council (also known as the World Customs Organization or “WCO”). In any instance in which a divergence in classification remains, participants will consider whether a joint suggestion could be made to the WCO with regard to updating existing HS nomenclature or resolving divergence in interpretation of the HS nomenclature.

6. The participants understand that Article XXIII of the General Agreement will address nullification or impairment of benefits accruing directly or indirectly to a WTO Member participant through the implementation of this Declaration as a result of the application by another WTO Member participant of any measure, whether or not that measure conflicts with the provisions of the General Agreement.

7. Each participant shall afford sympathetic consideration to any request for consultation from any other participant concerning the undertakings set out above. Such consultations shall be without prejudice to rights and obligations under the WTO Agreement.

8. Participants acting under the auspices of the Council for Trade in Goods shall inform other Members of the WTO and States or separate customs territories in the process of acceding to the WTO of these modalities and initiate consultations with a view to facilitate their participation in the expansion of trade in information technology products on the basis of the Declaration.

seq level0 \*arabic 9. As used in these modalities, the term “participant” shall mean those Members of the WTO, or States or separate customs territories in the process of acceding to the WTO, that provide the document described in paragraph 2 no later than 1 March 1997.

10. This Annex shall be open for acceptance by all Members of the WTO and any State or any separate customs territory in the process of acceding to the WTO. Acceptances shall be notified in writing to the Director-General who shall communicate them to all participants.

There are two attachments to the Annex.

Attachment A lists the HS headings or parts thereof to be covered.

Attachment B lists specific products to be covered by an ITA wherever they are classified in the HS.


 [1] Participants will conduct a review of this product description in January 1999 under the consultation provisions of paragraph 3 of the Declaration.

 



 [1] On behalf of the customs union Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

 [2] This percentage shall be calculated by the WTO Secretariat on the basis of the most recent data available at the time of the meeting.