Tariff cuts for 834 technology products will begin today

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Tariff cuts for 834 technology products will begin today

The World Trade Organization’s expanded Information Technology Agreement will finally be eliminated today, the Korean government said.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said 53 member states signed the agreement to remove tariffs on 834 IT products. The products include semiconductor manufacturing machines, electronic image devices such as microscopes and medical devices like magnetic resonance imaging.

The ITA is enforced by the WTO and the aim of the treaty is to lower taxes and tariffs on IT products.

Tariffs on 381 products, or 46 percent of the total products that member states agreed to remove tariffs, will be removed today and another 365 will be removed in three years. The remaining tariffs with be removed gradually within seven years. For example, the tariff applied to recording albums was 8 percent but will be removed today.

Member states who signed the ITA will remove tariffs on the affected IT products and offer the same rules to other WTO member states, an official at the Trade Ministry said.

The document reviewing process for both importing and exporting companies will also be eased. The Trade Ministry said companies will no longer be required to file documents such as a certificate of origin to receive tax cuts. Under the current trade rules, even countries that signed free trade agreements needed to file documents.

“We believe Korean companies will be able to expand their export markets overseas and Korean consumers who buy imported headphones or MP3 players will now be able to enjoy them at cheaper prices,” said Park Sung-jin, a director at the Trade Ministry. Park added that Korean manufacturing companies can lower their manufacturing costs by buying parts from overseas cheaper as well.

The United States, China, EU and Canada are some of the locations that have adopted the expanded agreement.

“The new deal provides for the elimination of import tariffs and other duties on information and communication technology products either immediately or progressively,” said the ITA Expansion Group on the WTO’s website. “By 2019, it is estimated that 95.4 percent of participants’ import duties on these products will be fully eliminated, with tariffs remaining on a small range of products to be completely removed by 2021 or 2023 at the latest.”

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]
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