International Talks on IT Tariffs are Crucial to the Industry's Future

China is currently holding up an important agreement to reduce or eliminate international tariffs on IT products.

Geneva, Switzerland, has been the scene of the most important information technology news in recent weeks. Countries from around the world, including the United States, which all together make up 97 percent of the global IT economy, are meeting there to try to hammer out a deal that would help remove costly international tariffs on information technology.

Extending existing agreement
The World Trade Organization's Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which was first established in 1996 to stimulate international IT trade, is due to end, and negotiations over extending the pact are coming down to the wire. One of the most contentious issues has been over the numerous newer products that aren't covered under the original agreement.

The major signatories, including world powers China, the European Union and Japan, are in disagreement over the scope of the new products that will be excluded from any new agreement. For instance, there are 67 items that China doesn't want included, while the U.S. has only one objection - fiber optic cable.

According to the Brussels-based think tank ECIPE, a pact similar to the one still in effect would keep tariffs estimated at $11.5 billion from kicking in, which serves to underscore the importance of an international agreement. But that doesn't seem to be enough motivation to get China to move toward a compromise, as the country has been the biggest impediment to reaching a consensus, according to PCWorld.

"An expanded ITA will lead to increased global trade in digital products," John Higgins, director general of DigitalEurope, told PCWorld. "As well as delivering major benefits on a global scale in terms of productivity, economic growth and the creation of new jobs, it will also benefit the users of technology in the form of lower prices and greater choice. We therefore urge China to show good faith and reduce sharply its long list of exclusions."

Impact on IT in America
Anyone in the U.S. who has a career in information technology or who is considering pursuing an IT degree will likely be directly affected by the developments in Geneva. An extension and expansion of the previous agreement would help stimulate America's ability to export its IT innovations and products throughout the world, leading to a stronger technology sector for years to come.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers bachelor's and master's online degree programs in IT. To find out more, please visit www.wgu.edu/wisecareers_IT.

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