The US has expressed its concern about the EU’s interpretation of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) covering high-tech products that offers duty-free status to some items. The ITA was a significant achievement that was reached in 1996 by 29 WTO Members, all of whom agreed to eliminate, on a reciprocal basis, import tariffs on nearly 200 IT products, such as semi-conductors, computers and telecommunications equipment. Today, over 70 WTO Members, including Australia, Canada, China, the EU’s 27Member States, Japan, and the US, together representing about 97% of world trade in IT products, have agreed to abide by the ITA.
However, in recent years, consumers have been increasingly buying items such as LCD monitors as their price has fallen. Thus, the EU has started to reclassify some equipment as consumer goods, imposing import tariffs which average 10%. This practice has drawn criticism from the US who may decide to file a WTO dispute settlement complaint.