US accuses China for stalling ITA negotiations in Geneva
Washington: US has accused China for holding up negotiations towards an expanded Information Technology Agreement (ITA) of the WTO in Geneva.
"A diverse group of members participating in the negotiations determined that China's current position makes progress impossible at this stage," US Trade Representative (USTR) Mike Froman said yesterday.
Froman was joined by the industry in blaming Beijing on suspension of the ITA negotiations.
These negotiations were stalled as China unveiled its lengthy and unreasonable list of sensitive products, the US Information Technology Industry Council said in a statement.
"Despite great progress leading up to this week to close the deal on expansion of the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA), China showed up to the talks two days late and far more than a dollar short.
In fact, China made almost no move to cut its staggering list of sensitive products it wants removed from the negotiating table," said John Neuffer of the ITI Council.
Neuffer, who was in Geneva for the negotiations said that the Chinese list was more than twice as long as any other country's sensitivities list.
The list continues to call for the removal of critical products such as next-generation semiconductors, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, medical devices, and even some products already covered by the ITA such as printers and monitors in addition to a trove of many other products important to US and global industry, he said.
"No country at the negotiating table should be able to have its cake and eat it too. China is the world's largest exporter of IT products and will benefit enormously from this tariff elimination initiative," Neuffer said.
Neuffer said the Asian nation should not be allowed to continue to keep a wide swath of tariffs in place that make it difficult for tech products from US and around the world to enter its market.
Froman hoped that China would review its position on the issue after carefully considering the concerns from its negotiating partners.
"We are hopeful that China will carefully consider the concerns it heard this week from many of its negotiating partners, and revise its position in a way that will allow the prompt resumption of the negotiations," he said.
ITA looks to completely eliminate tariffs on IT products covered under the agreement.
Discussions have been ongoing to expand the ITA to include consumer goods such as speakers and headsets, and flat-screen televisions, and it was hoped an agreement would be reached in Geneva this week.