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Trade negotiators agree on tariff cuts worth $1 trillion

Staff writer ▼ | July 20, 2015
Trade negotiators from around the world tentatively agreed Saturday to eliminate tariffs on an array of technology products valued at $1 trillion worth of global commerce.
WTO Information
Trade   The World Trade Organization
A final deal by the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Information Technology Agreement signatories is expected to newly include some 200 products such as magnetic resonance imaging machines and video game consoles, they said.

Countries such as the United States are in favor of expanding the product list, while China and other countries have been asking for some exemptions.

For Japan, over ¥8 trillion ($64.5 billion) worth of exported products a year will be tariff-free under the new agreement, according to the sources.

The breakthrough took place at an ambassadors’ meeting at the European Union Embassy in Geneva.

“Very optimistic that we’ll have a final successful deal by the end of next week,” Roberto Azevedo, director-general of the WTO, said on Twitter.

“We have the basis for an agreement.”

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office hailed a “major breakthrough” in what would be the first significant tariff- cutting deal at the WTO in 18 years.

“This will open overseas markets for some of America’s most competitive companies and workers,” USTR Michael Froman said in an emailed statement.

“We are confident that all parties will now give formal approval to their participation in what would be the first tariff-elimination deal at the WTO in 18 years.”

In talks that started on July 14, members took on the question of various tariffs, notably on LCD screens, which were contested by Taiwan and China, and an EU request concerning car radios.

South Korean negotiators withdrew their opposition to an extended agreement, and members agreed to consider a draft list of covered products.

Tariffs on semiconductors, magnetic resonance imaging machines, global positioning system devices, printer ink cartridges, video game consoles and other products will be cut to zero under the deal, according to the USTR office.

The expanded product list will now undergo consideration from trade ministers at their countries.