In December 2015, over 50 WTO members, including Canada, gathered at the Nairobi
Ministerial Conference, and agreed to the expansion of the
Information Technology Agreement (ITA), a WTO agreement that aims
to eliminate tariffs on IT products. The ITA was originally concluded by 29 participants
in 1996. It now has over 82 participants, representing around 97
per cent of world trade in IT products.
On July 1, 2016, the expanded ITA finally came into effect,
eliminating tariffs on 201 tech and information-related products
valued at over $1.3 trillion per year. An expansion of the
agreement was necessary given recent technological innovations. The
products affected by this expansion include certain parts of
smartphones such as touchscreens, as well as MRI machines and
Canada has implemented the expanded ITA and eliminated tariffs
on 52 products in its Order Amending the Schedule to the Customs
Tariffs (Information Technology Agreement Expansion, 2016), SOR/2016-197. While some tariff eliminations
are taking effect as of July 1, 2016, others will take effect over
the next 3 years. It should be noted that many of the products
covered by the expanded ITA were already tariff-free under Canadian
The implementation of the expanded ITA will not only benefit
Canadian importers. The Minister of International Trade has stated
that this tariff elimination will allow Canadians easier access to
the latest technology, and make Canadian exports more attractive in foreign
markets. Many of Canada's exports will be positively affected,
including flight simulators, audiovisual products and parts,
advanced semiconductors, telecommunications products, software,
media storage devices, radar apparatus, medical devices and
navigational equipment. According to Global Affairs Canada's
press release, Canada's annual global exports of the products
covered by the expanded ITA amount to approximately $17.8
Other gains from the Nairobi Ministerial Conference included
increased support expressed by members for advancing WTO work on
e-commerce. Members agreed to continue to work under the WTO's
existing Work Programme on Electronic Commerce. They
also affirmed that members will maintain the current practice of
not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions and will
further discuss at their next session, held in 2017.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
While that agreement mandated export measures on Canadian softwood lumber exports destined for the United States, it also protected those lumber exports from the potential imposition of onerous import measures by the U.S.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).