IT trade deal reached to strike tariffs

IT trade deal reached to strike tariffs
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The United States and more than 50 international partners finalized on Friday an agreement that will phase out tariffs on $1 trillion in information technology products, completing another key piece of President Obama’s ambitious trade agenda.

Three years in the making, World Trade Organization (WTO) partners wrapped up the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) that will break down barriers on about 200 tariff lines on products ranging from semiconductors to medical devices.

“ITA’s expansion is great news for the American workers and businesses that design, manufacture and export state-of-the-art technology and information products, ranging from MRI machines to semiconductors to video game consoles,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanUS trade rep spent nearly M to furnish offices: report Overnight Finance: Trump hits China on currency manipulation, countering Treasury | Trump taps two for Fed board | Tax deadline revives fight over GOP overhaul | Justices set to hear online sales tax case Froman joins Mastercard to oversee global business expansion MORE.

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The expanded agreement, which marks the first major tariff-eliminating deal at the WTO in 18 years, is expected to support upward of 60,000 more U.S. jobs.

A General Electric spokesperson called the deal "a significant win for public health — especially in the global fight against cancer, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases."

"We urge all partners to implement a quick phase out of tariffs so that patients can benefit from enhanced access as soon as possible."

The U.S. exports more than $100 billion a year in technology products, and the deal will eventually reduce tariffs of up to 30 percent of them down to zero.

Since the ITA first went into force in 1997, global trade covered by the agreement has more than tripled, to more than $4 trillion in annual trade. But its scope has never been expanded until now.

The deal is expected to spur $190 billion in annual global growth.

The first major breakthrough on the expansion came when Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November, leading to a restart of the talks.

The final agreement was forged last weekend in Geneva and finalized on Friday.