WTO
The World Trade Organization recently held talks to discuss the possibility of duty-free trade on information technology goods. The proposed legislation sought to extend a 17-year-old trade agreement to end all tariffs on IT products.

However, on December 12, all talks ceased and collapsed due to a deadlock between China and South Korea over liquid crystal displays, commonly referred to as LCDs. The zero-tariff agreement applied to over 200 hundred products. South Korea wanted LCD products to be included in the deal; however, China refused this measure. It seems unlikely that China will concede to the stipulations regarding the LCD screens.

The Information Technology Agreement, or ITA, intends to strengthen trade between countries in the growing sector of technology. Opening channels for trade would have benefited both countries immediately as they would no longer be penalized for trading goods.

WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said after the talks collapsed, “The participants have significantly reduced the gaps on expanding the coverage of the ITA agreement in recent days, but unfortunately it has not been possible to finalize the negotiations this week.”

In 2015, the talks are projected to continue with the hope that they will receive a unanimous vote in agreement. The WTO is committed to multilateral trade that integrates 161 countries around the world. The ITA deal would integrate mostly developing economies with significant production of new technology.

The deal makes imported products significantly cheaper than manufacturing and selling the products in one’s own country. India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi did not enter into the signed deal with the United States and China to protect India’s manufacturing interests.

However, a case could be made that a deal for India would increase exports, in turn benefiting India’s economy.

India is currently number 19 on the list of leading exporters and the 12th largest exporter. The balance of trade is India’s main concern and the concern of counties who do not already have robust industries.

– Maxine Gordon

Sources: NDTV, Rediff
Photo: Business Times