USTR - Sectoral Initiatives
Office of the United States Trade Representative


Sectoral Initiatives


World Trade Organization Members in July 2004 concluded a framework agreement as the basis to move forward with the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. Paragraph 7 of the Framework directs Members to pursue a sectoral approach, which would allow WTO Members to eliminate or harmonize tariffs in specific industry sectors.

The sectoral approach aims to eliminate (or harmonize) tariffs in a given sector. This approach was used during the Uruguay Round to negotiate agreements on wood, pulp, paper and furniture; metals; and non-electric machinery; fish and fish products; textiles and clothing; leather, rubber, and footwear; and transport equipment, and an agreement eliminating tariffs on information technology products was concluded in 1997. In the Information Technology Agreement negotiations it was decided that the Agreement would come into effect once Members with a share of 90 percent of world trade had joined it. The concessions were applied on an MFN basis. Under a sectoral agreement, the pace, or staging, of tariff cuts country by country is open for negotiation. 

U.S. Position 

The United States believes that a sectoral component is essential to the overall success of tariff reduction and/or elimination negotiations in the Doha Round and is seeking sectors of interest to other WTO Members in an effort to build a critical mass of support for a sectoral approach in as many areas as possible.  The United States has suggested using the critical mass method, where a sectoral initiative would be launched if a critical mass of players (importers and exporters) agrees to participate. 

Sectoral Initiatives Under Consideration

WTO Members have formally or informally proposed several sectors that might be considered for negotiation.  These include agricultural equipment, bearings, bicycles, cameras, ceramics, chemicals, civil aircraft, construction equipment and machinery, electrical equipment and electronics, energy related equipment, environmental goods, fertilizers, fish, footwear, forest products, furniture, stones, gems and jewelry, glass, iron and steel, information technology equipment, leather goods, machine tools, medical equipment, minerals and raw materials including ores, motor vehicles, motor vehicle parts and components, non-ferrous metals, office machines, paper and pulp, pharmaceuticals, primary aluminum, scientific equipment, sporting goods, textiles and clothing, titanium, and toys.

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