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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WTO Deal Cuts Info-Tech Duties

GENEVA -- Nearly 40 countries have cut a deal to eliminate customs duties on a wide range of information technology goods -- a move expected to bring down consumer costs and expand new technologies in developing countries.

Altogether 39 countries representing 92.5 percent of world trade have signed up to phase out all tariffs on computers, telecom equipment, semiconductors, software and scientific instruments by 2000. Some developing countries, however, will have a grace period of up to five years.

"This is a new, important achievement of the multi-lateral trading system," said Renato Ruggiero, the director general of the World Trade Organization. Ruggiero said the pact was a rare example of a "win-win situation" where info-tech producing countries would benefit from exporting more and importing countries would be able to buy the technology they need at lower prices.

"It will open the way for equal access to information and knowledge for both rich and poor countries. This is why so many countries signed up this agreement without any difficulty," he said.