Jul 16, 2017

Sri Lanka explores the possibility of joining WTO's ITA

Sri Lanka will be exploring the possibility of joining World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA) as it is  not a member of ITA yet .

The country  awaits to give its concurrence to join as domestic stakeholders need to be updated first on aspects and huge benefits of the Agreement.

WTO session in Colombo has launched  Sri Lanka’s much awaited journey to join the landmark WTO ITA and reap the huge export and import benefits that it readily affords to the country’s surging IT sector and related sub-sectors.

As the landmark global Information Technology Agreement (ITA) completes its 20th anniversary, Sri Lanka as been able gain awareness on  ITA at the session held  in Colombo recently.

Two high level representatives from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) who were in  Colombo have given first-hand briefing to surging Lankan IT sector and firms, trade and policy officials, and other stakeholders on the landmark WTO  ITA’s way forward for the country.

Senior Statistician-Market Access Intelligence Section of WTO Eric Shing and Counsellor of Market Access Division of WTO Xiaobing Tang conducted their Colombo briefings in the presence of Minister of Industry and Commerce
Rishad Bathiudeen.

ITA, concluded in 1996 and entered into force on 1 July 1997, aims to bring all taxes and tariff on information technology products (by signatory members) to zero. ITA membership that was at 29 when the members first met in Singapore in 1997, has, after twenty years of its existence to-date, increased to 82. In another landmark deal under ITA, in 2015 December, 53 WTO member countries (who claim 90% of world trade in IT products!) agreed to eliminate tariffs on 201 IT products.

ITA’s impact is vast-in that it is not only about IT products but covers intellectual property, trade rules, telecommunications and telecom satellites, medical equipment, GPS navigation systems, and even touch screens.

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