Will lower IT product tariffs boost NZ business?

An agreement reached in Geneva to lower tariffs on over 200 IT related products is being touted as beneficial to New Zealand businesses.

An agreement reached in Geneva to lower tariffs on over 200 IT related products, building on the WTO’s 1996 Ministerial Declaration on Trade in Information Technology Products (ITA), is being touted as beneficial to New Zealand businesses.

So says Trade Minister Tim Groser, who in officially welcoming the news, believes the agreement will lead to more than 20 WTO Members, including the European Union, “progressively eliminating tariffs on a range of IT related products.”

The official Government party line in New Zealand claims that the range of products covered has been expanded to reflect the “significant technological developments” that have occurred since the original deal was agreed in 1996.

A timetable for eliminating tariffs is expected to be completed by December.

“New Zealand exporters stand to benefit from the expanded list of products, which covers products of export interest to New Zealand to a value currently approaching NZ$1 billion, and includes key exports such as telecommunications equipment,” Groser says.

Groser says that other products to be included are communication devices, audio-visual products, medical devices, navigational instruments, and machinery and parts used in the manufacturing of IT products.

“Liberalisation of tariffs on these products will allow New Zealand companies better access to a number of key markets, including some not covered by existing free trade agreements such as the European Union,” Groser adds.

“The expansion of the range of products covered by the ITA means that New Zealand businesses will be better positioned to participate in global value chains, especially in the high-value manufacturing sector, and should benefit from enhanced innovation and increased productivity.

“The successful agreement - the first negotiated tariff-cutting deal within the WTO in 18 years - is also a positive signal at a time when WTO Members are seeking to forge a consensus on unresolved issues in the Doha Round in preparation for the 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December.

“There are still procedural steps to be taken before this welcome agreement can be implemented, including Cabinet approval and an examination of the agreement by a Parliamentary select committee.”

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