Hardware prices could come down after WTO tariff repeal on chips, switches and touchscreens

A new trade deal will see 54 nations scrap tariffs on 201 tech products thanks to an update of a decades old agreement.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Consumers may see prices for certain tech products fall thanks to a new trade deal between 54 World Trade Organisation (WTO) members.

According to the WTO, the 54 members have agreed to cut tariffs on a list of 201 IT products with that account for $1.3 trillion in trade each year.

The products have been added to the Information Technology Agreement, a deal launched in 1997 to cover a range of technology products such as typewriters, word processors, hard drives, and other items, which members agreed to eliminate tariffs on. However, in 2012, members acknowledged that the tech industry had expanded well beyond the items considered in previous decades.

The updated agreement now includes "new-generation semiconductors, GPS navigation systems, medical products which include magnetic resonance imaging machines, machine tools for manufacturing printed circuits, telecommunications satellites and touchscreens".

Announcing the trade deal, the European Commission noted members would also remove customs duties on video games and consoles, home hi-fi systems, headphones, Blu-Ray and DVR players, semiconductors, TV cameras, routers, and switches. Monitors, projectors, non-digital car radios and TVs will be excluded from the pact in the EU.

The full terms of the agreement will be circulated at a WTO General Council meeting on 28 July.

Signatory nations have agreed to start reducing tariffs next year, and eliminate them completely within three years.

"Today's agreement is a landmark," said WTO director general Roberto Azevêdo. "Annual trade in these 201 products is valued at over $1.3 trillion per year, and accounts for approximately seven percent of total global trade today. This is larger than global trade in automotive products - or trade in textiles, clothing, iron and steel combined."

"Eliminating tariffs on trade of this magnitude will have a huge impact. It will support lower prices - including in many other sectors that use IT products as inputs - it will create jobs and it will help to boost GDP growth around the world."

The WTO noted that even though many nations did not participate in the negotiations they would benefit in any case because "participants will scrap duties on imports of these products regardless of which member has produced them".

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