December 16, 2015 / 9:06 PM / 4 years ago

WTO members cut import tariffs on 201 IT products in major trade deal

NAIROBI, Dec 16 (Reuters) - More than 50 members of the World Trade Organization signed an agreement on Wednesday to remove import tariffs on 201 information technology products, marking the first major global tariff-cutting deal in 19 years.

The products covered account for 10 percent of global trade and should mean consumers pay less for items such as GPS navigation systems, computers and other goods, while companies see cuts in the cost of machine tools.

The deal, signed by 53 countries including China, will remove tariffs on trade worth $1.3 trillion, which is expected to give a $190 billion boost to the world economy.

It is the first major agreement to come out of the World Trade Organization’s ministerial conference under way this week in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, and was hailed as a victory for global commerce and for the famously slow-moving organization.

“The ITA expansion is a major win for the World Trade Organization, the producers of the information and communications technology products and very importantly for consumers around the world,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

Froman has previously said that more than $100 billion of U.S. exports alone would be covered by the updated agreement, and industry estimates showed the removal of tariffs could support up to 60,000 additional jobs.

In July, the WTO finalised the list of 201 products. Tariffs on them will be lifted in several stages, taking effect for 65 percent of the products concerned immediately and full implementation within seven years.

New-generation semi-conductors, medical products including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, printed circuits and satellites are all included in the deal, the WTO said.

Once in force, the agreement will update the WTO’s 18-year-old Information Technology Agreement and add the new products to the list of goods covered by zero-tariff and duty-free trade.

Technology manufacturers such as General Electric Co, Intel Corporation, Texas Instruments Inc, Microsoft Corp and Nintendo Co are among companies expected to benefit from the deal. (Additional reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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