Friday, May 16, 2008

Do You Mean IT or IT?

Most people don't connect international trade (IT) and information technology (IT).Yet today's "Exporting in a Free Trade World," a forum devoted to free trade agreements (FTA) and opening markets demonstrated that connection.

While the brief forum was necessarily limited to just two countries -- Canada and Colombia -- a broader discussion included some neighboring countries. Speakers, included Margaret Hanson-Muse, Counselor for Commercial Affairs, U.S. Embassy (Bogota) Colombia. She had participated in the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement negotiations (telecom and customs chapters), for which she was recognized by the Department of State with her second Superior Honor Award. In December 2006, Pfizer S.A. recognized Ms. Hanson-Muse with its first annual leadership award "for her exemplary support ... in defense of Intellectual Property rights."

Both Ms. Hanson-Muse and Matt Gaisford, Ecuador/Panama Desk, U.S. Department of Commerce attested that the proposed FTA for Colombia and Peru, as well as the existing Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) with Panama, included those countries acceptance of the Information Technology Agreement, basically allowing IT in duty-free.

For Panama, Washington's 2007 exports of computers and electronic products totaled $1.5 million. Washington's exporters of computers and other information technology equipment will benefit from the U.S.-Panama TPA tariff reductions. Certain U.S. exports of information technology equipment will receive duty-free treatment immediately upon entry into force of the Agreement, including DVDs, telephone and fax equipment, semiconductors and medical and lab instruments.

Washington's manufactured-export category for computers and electronic products was $3.3 billion in 2007. The U.S.-Colombia TPA improves market access for Washington's information technology goods and service providers. Nearly 100% of U.S.exports of products covered by the Information Technology Agreement, including important exports of computer equipment and communications equipment, will receive duty-free treatment immediately upon entry into force of the agreement. With the immediate removal of most tariffs, U.S. exports will become much more competitive and affordable to Colombians.

Now, the benefit is mostly one-way with Colombia enjoying access to the U.S. market duty-free. The top U.S. exports in this sector include computers, computer parts and radio and TV broadcasting equipment. Adoption of the U.S.-Colombia FTA has been put on hold through action of the administration to hurriedly place the issue before Congress, and Congressional leadership's action to void time commitments to delay the issue past elections.

Our thanks to the FTA forum sponsors: U.S. Commercial Service, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, World Trade Center Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma for bringing this discussion of the facts on this public policy issue to the community.

No comments:

Post a Comment