Kenya reaps big from WTO’s Information Technology Agreement

Kenya reaps big from WTO’s Information Technology Agreement

Kenya is set to reap big from the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), this is according to Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed.

Even though Kenya is not yet a member of the group, it stands to benefit from the agreement along with all World Trade Organization (WTO) member states.

“We are a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship, we are going to identify how and when we can join the ITA,” said Amina.

Once a country shows interest in the ITA, it attracts investment.

“There are many benefits of the ITA, many technology products become zero rated. This will be good for the country since we are already far ahead of everyone else,” added Amina.

On Wednesday, 53 Members who are party to the ITA Expansion negotiations reached final agreement on the tariff elimination of 201 IT products, including staging commitments for each product.

Annual trade in these 201 products is valued at approximately USD1.3 trillion per year, which accounts for approximately 10 per cent of world trade today.

This value considerably exceeds the share of world trade represented by automotive products which stands at approximately 4.8 per cent.

In addition, trade in these 201 products by these 53 Members represents approximately 90 per cent of total global trade in these products.

With respect to staging, the first reduction of customs duties will begin on 1 July 2016, and over 90 per cent of the 53 Members’ customs duties on a total tariff line basis will be eliminated within three years.

Moreover, the complete elimination of customs duties on these 201 products for all 53 Members will be completed by January 1st, 2024.

Since the original ITA was reached in 1996, the rapid development of information technology has given rise to numerous new products such as new generation semi-conductors, semi-conductor manufacturing equipment, optical lenses, GPS navigation equipment, and medical equipment such as magnetic resonance imaging products and ultra-sonic scanning apparatus. This ITA Expansion eliminates tariffs on these cutting edge IT products.

The tariff elimination agreed upon Wednesday will greatly facilitate the dissemination of these innovative information technologies throughout society as a whole, contributing to the early detection and prevention of illnesses, the improvement of quality of life as well as the advancement of economic activities all over the world.

With the ITA Expansion, the IT industry would also benefit from the deepening of global value chains, promotion of innovation, and creation of new businesses.