ITA Committee meeting

After the conclusion of the symposium, we continued with the ITA Committee meeting. At the outset, the Chairman had a brief recount of the symposium, where he stated the importance of emerging economies in the ITA, as well as their growth on both the producing and consuming side. Also, the Chairman said that the ITA should be more inclusive in order to benefit SMEs and small economies and incorporate them into the global supply chain. Finally, the Chairman recognized that although much of the growth in IT trade comes from countries in Asia, countries in other parts have also experienced significant growth; however, there are still some regions that remain unrepresented.

Members commented on the symposium, and there was an overall positive recount of the event. Members acknowledged the ITAs contribution in the expansion of trade but equally called for a need to review the IT in order to better accommodate the current reality.

On the item related to the review of the product coverage, the Chair stated that for a long time the item was included under other business. However, due to recent consultations, there was a call to include it under a specific item, since it is also part of the mandate. The US commented on the need to de-link the tariff negotiations from NTBs, and address NTBs specifically through the Work Programs.

The EU stated that the work on NTBs would be no non-binding and focused on transparency and GRP on issues such as technical regulations and conformity assessment. Also, the EU mentioned the role of the Committee, which should ensure transparency and update the Members on the negotiation developments, as well as on the WP for NTBs.

El Salvador, on behalf of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Dominican Republic, stated that discussions lack the specificity required on product expansion, which would facilitate the discussion between Members. It also called for an intensification of the discussions once there is a clear understanding on the specific products to be included. It also called for inclusive consultations within the framework of the Committee.

India supported El Salvador’s statement, and asked why are all the efforts being centered on tariffs, since the “ITA mandate”, if it is interpreted as such, calls for a review on both tariffs and NTBs. It also called attention to standards on IT products as an important element as well as the existing classification divergences. Finally, it questioned the Secretariat on the existence of any guidelines for the ITA review process, since in India’s opinion, the existing guidelines refer exclusively to the initial review process that took place in 1997/98 but concluded with no results.

On new participants, the Chairman stated that Montenegro’s schedule will be considered approved, unless Members wish to make comments before May 30. On Russia’s accession, Russia stated it is currently working on its comments on the draft schedule and will in time revert to the Secretariat.

Finally, the delegate from Canada, Aaron Fowler was elected as the new Chairman of the ITA Committee. The Chairman intends to hold consultations in order to determine the best suitable date for the next meeting.