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Agreement on trade in IT products approved by EU

June 19, 2016 - On 17 June 2016, the Council concluded, on behalf of the EU, an international agreement on the expansion of trade in information technology products. The agreement expands the product coverage of a 1996 agreement to reflect technological developments. It was agreed in Nairobi on 16 December 2015 in the margins of the World Trade Organisation's tenth ministerial conference.

 The text commits 50 parties, including the EU's 28 member states, to eliminate tariffs on IT products in four stages over a three-year period ending on 1 July 2019. Each of the parties have submitted schedules for the elimination of tariffs. They also agree to intensify consultations on non-tariff barriers in the IT sector. Additional products The 1996 IT agreement was concluded originally by 29 parties, and their number has since grown to 82.

Participation now represents about 97% of world trade in IT products. The new agreement covers an additional 201 products, which according to the WTO are valued at over $1.3 trillion per year. These include new generation semiconductors, GPS navigation systems, magnetic resonance imaging machines, machine tools for manufacturing printed circuits, communications satellites and touchscreens.

The new agreement was negotiated by the Commission on the basis of a mandate granted by the Council in July 2009. On 8 June 2016, the European Parliament gave its consent to the conclusion of the agreement by the EU. The decision to conclude the agreement was taken without discussion at a meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council.

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