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Trade groups applaud breakthrough on tech agreement

Major technology trade groups applauded a breakthrough over the weekend at the World Trade Organization that would eliminate tariffs on hundreds of tech products not covered by previous deals. 

On Saturday, the WTO announced the agreement’s terms had been sent to the capitals of 54 member countries for review. A final approval deadline is Friday. 

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The WTO said the agreement would cover tariffs on 200 products that account for nearly $1 trillion in trade per year. Those include everything from GPS equipment to new generation semi-conductors. 

“The progress made today in Geneva on the Information Technology Agreement is potentially seismic. Once completed, ITA expansion will make history, representing the biggest tariff-elimination undertaking achieved by the WTO in nearly two decades,” the Information Technology Industry Council said in a statement. 

The Consumer Electronic Association noted that the trade deal, called the Information Technology Agreement, had not been updated since 1997. 

“It’s critical that we include modern technology products in an updated ITA to ensure consumers around the world will receive the agreement’s many benefits,” the group said in a statement. 

Originally signed in 1997, the Information Technology Agreement covers tariffs on things like computers, software, and telecommunications equipment. 

Negotiations to update the deal were started in 2012. Negotiators hope to finalize the technical details over the next few months and to complete it by December.