All your consumer tech gear should be cheaper come July: that's the end-date for import tariffs

A new trade deal will exempt IT-related products worth $1.3 trillion annually from import tariffs

In a move meant to cut the cost of IT and consumer electronics products, the World Trade Organization is ending tariffs on imports including game consoles, TVs, GPS receivers and advanced chips from July 2016.

The tariffs -- in some countries as high as 35 percent on products such as video cameras -- will be phased out over seven years under an agreement finalized Wednesday, and applies to all 192 member countries of the WTO.

The vast majority of the savings will take effect next July, when tariffs are abolished on around 130 categories of IT equipment, accounting for 88 percent of affected imports, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said Wednesday.

By 2019, 95 percent of imports affected by the changes will be tariff-free, with all 201 product categories covered by the agreement being exempted within seven years, Azevêdo said.

Other products that will become tariff-exempt include touch screens, telecommunications satellites, tools for manufacturing printed circuits and some medical products, he said.

While cars aren't directly affected by the trade deal, components to make them safer and more fuel-efficient are, as the multicomponent integrated circuits they contain were recently reclassified as semiconductors, one of the categories exempted from tariffs, according to the European Semiconductor Industry Association.

The agreement affects around 10 percent of the world trade in information and communications technology products and will eliminate around $50 billion in tariffs annually, according to IT industry lobby group DigitalEurope. It expects a $190 billion boost to global GDP from the changes.

The deal doesn't go far enough for Digital Europe, which wants to see a similar agreement on trade in IT-related services introduced by the end of 2016.

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Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
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