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U.S. Leads WTO Partners in Clinching Landmark Expansion of Information Technology Agreement

July 24, 2015

ITA’s completion is a major win for American technology exporters and a step forward for President Obama’s Middle Class Economics trade agenda

GENEVA – The United States and nearly 50 partners at the World Trade Organization (WTO) have finalized a landmark expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) that will generate economic growth by phasing out hundreds of tariffs on information technology exports all over the world.

This is the first major tariff-eliminating deal at the WTO in 18 years, and estimates from industry show that the elimination of tariff barriers on previously excluded U.S. technology exports under this new agreement could support up to 60,000 additional American jobs. 

The United States is a world leader in information technology, and every year we export over $100 billion of Made-in-America technology products covered by the agreed ITA Expansion product list, which support thousands of well-paying jobs from coast to coast.

To grow these benefits and capitalize on American technological advantages, President Obama engaged the United States in these negotiations to expand the ITA in 2012.

U.S. leadership was instrumental to establishing the first ITA in 1997. But despite the tremendous growth in global trade in technology products, which has nearly tripled to over $4 trillion annually, as well as the dramatic evolution in the technology sector, the scope of the ITA had never been updated. As a consequence, countless American exports have faced burdensome tariffs when we sell them across the globe. This gave the Obama Administration’s efforts a unique urgency. 

“ITA’s expansion is great news for the American workers and businesses that design, manufacture, and export state-of-the-art technology and information products, ranging from MRI machines to semiconductors to video game consoles,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. “President Obama has made expanding trade central to his Middle Class Economics agenda because Made-in-America exports unlock opportunity for Americans. Nowhere is that economic promise more clear than ITA, which will alleviate over 200 tariffs burdening American technology exports all over the world.” 

In November 2014, President Obama and President Xi of China came together in a key bilateral breakthrough that brought closure of the ITA negotiations in Geneva within striking distance. 

Then, this summer, during the latest negotiating round, the United States led efforts to broker compromises among the parties to find the path forward toward a final agreement – making critical progress last week.  

Today, the final ITA expansion product list was approved, along with a Declaration that lays out the procedural steps for implementing the tariff elimination commitments on the more than 200 products included on the list.

This is the 5th trade agreement taken to the finish line under President Obama, and it provides momentum for the President’s trade agenda shortly after he signed the first grant of Trade Promotion Authority since 2002.

For a list of new information technology products that will now be covered by the ITA, please click here