China Fails To Submit Revised ITA Schedule To Correct Technical Errors

NAIROBI, Kenya -- China here on Monday (Dec. 14) failed to submit a revised tariff schedule to correct technical errors that are holding up a final deal expanding the scope of the 1996 Information Technology Agreement (ITA), according to trade officials.

The technical errors in China's schedule are unacceptable to other participants because it would mean Beijing would not be cutting tariffs on the correct items, sources said. In absence of a consensus, talks on the ITA expansion will have to continue here, instead of wrapping up at a Dec. 14 meeting of ambassadors from participating countries.

The countries participating in the talks agreed in July on 201 products for which members would eliminate tariffs, and subsequently submitted national tariff schedules reflecting how they plan to implement that commitment.

The technical errors in China’s schedule seem to the biggest outstanding obstacles because countries have largely acquiesced to the phaseout periods that China has been demanding. Previously, the U.S. and EU urged China to shorten the phaseout periods on dozens of products from the five or seven years that China wanted to apply.

ITA expansion participants are aiming to wrap up a deal prior to a previously scheduled press conference on the ITA set to take place at 1 p.m. local time Wednesday, sources said. Japan, which has chaired the ITA expansion talks, is hosting the press conference, and WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo is slated to participate, according to a schedule circulated by the WTO secretariat.

The ITA ambassadors' meeting was held on the eve of the tenth ministerial of the WTO here.

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