Chart 5 EXPANSION of the ITA: Tariffs on products covered by the agreement The Information Technology Agreement (ITA) is a multi-lateral agreement, obtained by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and concluded in 1996 in the Ministerial Declaration on Trade in Information Technology Products and entered into force on 1 July 1997. Since 1997, an official WTO committee has overseed the following declaration and its implementation.  The agreement was extended in 2015.  Under the agreement, most tariffs on the 201 products will be abolished within three years, with reductions starting from 2016. By the end of October 2015, each of the participating members will present the other participants with a draft timetable specifying compliance with the terms of the agreement. Participants will spend the next few months preparing and reviewing these calendars. The aim is to complete this technical work in due course before the Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December. Despite recent progress in expanding the categories of covered IT products, the ITA agreement will continue to face serious challenges in classifying tariffs in the context of rapid technological change in the information technology sector and a general trend towards greater convergence of the global economy. The convergence of economic products in general, including goods and services, also has a significant impact on the “cultural and trade debate”, as evidenced by the legal relationship between the WTO agreements and the UNESCO agreement on the protection and promotion of cultural diversity (CDCE) and the issue of creating a coherent legal framework for international trade in the era of an emerging creative economy (Richieri Hanania 2015). Issues include the classification and distinction between different computer products as cultural or ordinary specific economic products and the question of their separate or common regulation (Guévremont et al. 2015; Neuwirth 2015; Weber and Burri 2013). Regionalism is another challenge, namely the increasing negotiation and conclusion of regional trade agreements containing important chapters on digital or computer products (Man and Liu 2008; Weber 2015). The agreement also provides for the obligation to remove non-tariff barriers in the information technology sector and to review the list of products covered to determine whether further enlargement may be necessary to take account of future technological developments.
The ITA is an important example of the success of the international trade agreement – it has expanded access to computer products that fuel the global economy, lowered prices for businesses and consumers, and enabled innovation and digitization worldwide. Its impact is of concern both to the global information and information technology TECHNOLOGY companies that are members of CCI and to the broader business community, represented by CCI, which benefits from the free trade of these products. Therefore, the ICC opposes all efforts to dissolve the ITA, either in spirit or in the letter, and to undermine the benefits it has brought.