WTO Workshop on Information Technology Agreement to be held in September 2021

A WTO workshop to discuss developments in information and communications technology (ICT) will take place on 16 September in Geneva, according to a decision made at the meeting of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) Committee on April 15. The workshop will examine how trade in ICT products has helped countries around the world combat COVID-19. It will also allow government officials to engage with the private sector and representatives of the IT industry on trade covered by the ITA and how the Agreement is used as a development tool.

The workshop will allow participants to share experiences and examine how ICT has brought about socio-economic benefits, opportunities and challenges in relation to the digitalization of the global economy.

The workshop will also discuss the prospects and challenges for further expansion of trade in ICT products and participation in the Agreement and possible future work on non-tariff barriers. In light of the uncertainties and restrictions related to COVID-19, the WTO Secretariat will announce the format of the workshop at a later stage.

25th anniversary

The ITA marks its 25th anniversary in December. The Agreement was concluded by 14 participants (EC-15 counting as one) at the Singapore Ministerial Conference in December 1996. Since then, the number of participants has grown to over 50 and account for 97 per cent of world trade in IT products. The participants are committed to eliminating tariffs on IT products covered by the Agreement.

The ITA covers a large number of high-technology products, including computers, telecommunication equipment, semiconductors, semiconductor manufacturing and testing equipment, software and scientific instruments as well as most of the parts and accessories of these products.

In December 2015, some ITA participants concluded the negotiations on an expansion of the 1996 ITA, which included an additional 201 products valued at over $1.3 trillion of trade per year.


At the meeting on  April 15, 2021, WTO members agreed to the following programme for the workshop:


10:15 – 11:30 : SESSION I

Overview of the ITA and latest developments in the ICT sector

Three or four presentations (10-15 minutes each) followed by a Q&A session (15 minutes)

Examples of presentation topics that could be discussed in this session:

  • The role played by trade in ITA products, and ICT and digital solutions in governments’ efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Trade liberalization under the ITA and the evolution of global trade in ICT products;
  • Latest advances in technologies and ICT products;
  • Regional trends in ICT trade and best practices.

11:30 – 13:00 : SESSION II

The role of ICT as an economic development tool

Three or four presentations (10 to 15 minutes each) followed by a Q&A session (15 minutes)

Examples of presentation topics that could be discussed in this session:

  • Benefits and challenges of ITA membership across the domestic economy, which can include quantitative analysis;
  • How ICT can contribute to development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including empowerment of MSMEs;
  • ICT challenges, solutions, and opportunities in the digitalization of the global economy;
  • How ITA participation can support integration into the digital economy.

15:00 – 17:00 : SESSION III

The future of the ITA

Four to five presentations (10 to 15 minutes each) followed by a panel discussion including a Q&A session (about 45 to 60 minutes in total).

Examples of presentations and topics for discussion include:

  • Prospects for, and challenges to, a further expansion of trade in ICT products;
  • Prospects for, and challenges to, a further expansion of participants of the Agreement;
  • Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and opportunities for identification of regulatory best practices in the area of ICT products, including in the (possible) areas of product safety, energy efficiency, cybersecurity and e-labelling;
  • Regional initiatives to facilitate trade in ICT products;
  • Conformity assessment procedures for ICT products and the role of the international system in the recognition of test results/mutual recognition


The facilitator(s) will provide a summary of the Workshop. Participants will then have an opportunity for final discussion and to provide any last comments and feedback.