The Computer & Communications Industry Association welcomed the United States Trade Representative’s announcement Tuesday that it had requested WTO dispute settlement action on duties imposed by the European Union on high-tech products covered by the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA).
The 1997 ITA conferred duty-free treatment on information technology products and has had a huge impact on promoting global trade in IT products. However, the European Commission (EC) has removed some products from ITA coverage, such as computer displays and multifunction printers, because these products have incorporated additional features that did not yet exist when the ITA was established in 1997.
“This means, U.S. IT companies are being penalized, in the form of tariffs, for the sin of innovating and improving their products,” CCIA President & CEO Ed Black said.
The WTO’s 1996 Ministerial Declaration on Trade in Information Technology Products clearly stated its desire “to achieve maximum freedom of world trade in information technology products” and “to encourage the continued technological development of the information technology industry on a world-wide basis.”
“By arguing that this very technological development disqualifies a product from ITA coverage, the EU’s actions blatantly violate the spirit of the ITA,” Black said.
CCIA applauds the USTR’s taking action to ensure the continued promotion of global IT trade, and we look forward to the EU’s compliance as a result of the WTO consultations.