By Council Decision (EU) 2016/971 of 17 June 2016 the EU passed a schedule reducing tariff rates for IT-products in four steps to zero. The European Commission has implemented the first step by Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1047 of 28 June 2016, reducing tariff rates for many IT-Products as of 1 July 2016.

Basis for the reduction of tariff rates on IT-products has been provided for last year by amending the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Due to an initiative of the EU the extension of the ITA has been adopted on 24 June 2015 by 54 WTO members, besides the 28 EU-states, especially but not limited to WTO-members like the USA, China, Japan, Korea or Switzerland. The tariff reduction will affect more than 200 different IT-products, which represent approximately 90% of the worldwide trade in IT-products, i.e. goods representing a value of more than one trillion Euros.

Subject of the new ITA are especially but not limited to goods of the sectors multimedia, printing, consumer electronics, medical devises as well as parts and components of IT-products. Implementing the Agreement will ease the burden of EU-economy considerably, considering that certain products are still facing tariffs of up to 14% (e.g. video cameras). The EU-Commission expects due to tariff reductions an additional profit of the EU-economic operators between 5 and 8,3 billion Euros.

SKW Schwarz Rechtsanwälte recommends all companies importing or exporting IT-products to check, if products traded by them have been subject to an easing of tariff rates by 1 July 2016 in order to adjust there calculation to stay competitive. Moreover, dates for the following duty reductions should be checked, to prevent losses by devaluation of inventory. Imports should be scheduled to avoid increasing stock of goods cleared for free circulation shortly before the next reduction, but rather thereafter.