Global accord to end IT tariffs nears

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is confident of signing a long- awaited global information technology accord this month to scrap tariffs and open the way for a vast expansion of the $600bn (pounds 370bn) global industry.

The WTO said yesterday that more than 90 per cent of countries needed for the accord had agreed to scrap tariffs on information technology (IT). The organisation added that "it was confident" that the rest would soon follow.

The US, the European Union, Japan and more than a dozen other countries had agreed in December in Singapore to remove tariffs on computer monitors, chips and other products by 2000. They set a deadline of 15 March to enlist other nations, and that process was largely complete, the WTO said.

Companies that make computer and telecommunications equipment, such as ICL, Racal, Psion, Hitachi and Samsung Electronics, stand to profit from an abolition of tariffs.

"We want tariffs to be lifted as quickly as possible,'' said Karl Leitenberger, an executive in the economics department of Siemens. German producers could benefit even more than their US counterparts, he said, because European tariffs and imports are high.

Renato Ruggiero, director-general of the WTO, said the Geneva-based arbiter of world trade had commitments from countries representing more than 90 per cent of the world market in IT products, "putting us over the threshold that was set for an agreement".

Siemens said an accord would save the company between DM70m and DM100m (pounds 25m and pounds 36m) a year starting in 2000, based on current imports. In December, LG Electronics, South Korea's second-biggest electronics producer, said it would double its overseas earnings if tariffs were removed.

The WTO said Malaysia, Thailand and India were among countries that pledged in recent days to scrap tariffs. Malaysia accounts for about 5 per cent of the global industry.

"This should give companies more financial muscle to offset sharp price competition in this industry,'' said Bernhard Rohleder, a spokesman for Eurobit, an industry group which represents 90 per cent of the European IT market. Most of the benefits would probably get passed on to customers, though an accord would help companies too, he said.

Import duties totalled 1.6bn ecus (pounds 1.13bn) in Europe last year, said Eurobit, which estimated the average computer would be 50 ecus cheaper without tariffs.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior Analyst - ALM Data - Banking - Halifax

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Analyst, ALM Data, Halifax, ...

Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/day

£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/d...

Liquidity Reporting-Basel III-LCR-Bank-£400/day

£400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Liquidity Reporting - Basel III - LCR - Ba...

Client Services Associate (MS Office, Analysis, Graduate)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client Services Associate (Microsoft Office, Ana...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz