The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has begun an investigation of the proposed expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which would expand the amount of tariff-free digital goods and related products, such as computers, semiconductors, and other electronic products.
The investigation will cover a products list compiled by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to be considered for new duty-free treatment under the ITA. The initial report on its findings is expected to be presented by the end of October, and it will begin accepting comments on the process next month. It will present a larger report next February that identifies the major producers of each product, related U.S. imports and export markets; and a global listing of related tariffs.
The ITA, which comes through the World Trade Organization, is expected to reach final talks among national members by the end of June 2013. It was first established in 1997 to encourage trading of digital products and covers around 140 products.
The ITA has not been revised since its inception, so countries are pushing to add between 100 and 200 items to the list, including things like digital TVs, digital gaming equipment, electronic scientific and hospital equipment, car navigation devices, and lithium-ion batteries.
While Japan and the U.S. are often cited as the big leaders in the push to update the ITA, Taiwan’s Deputy Economics Minister Francis Liang is urging Taiwanese firms to optimize their industrial operations and production to take advantage of an expanded ITA on day one.
According to one of the country’s news channels, Focus Taiwan, at a seminar to discuss Taiwan-U.S. trade cooperation Liang said that businesses needs to be in a place where they can take advantage of these deals by producing quality goods that are in demand even without such deals.
"What's important is to enhance the quality of our products. Although [such agreements] can boost exports and sales, it is the quality of products themselves that is more critical," said Liang.
He said that strengthening the offering of basic technologies can reduce the export impact of a zero-tariff treatment. "Both are equally important and vital," Liang said. Geoff Whiting