Trade agreements open up e-commerce

Trade Directorate

Multilateral trade agreements have helped e-commerce get ahead in many direct and indirect ways. Two notable contributions include:

The WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) of 1997, which eliminated tariffs on a range of ICT products necessary for e-commerce, including computer hardware, computer software, telecommunications equipment, semiconductors, and other electronic components and equipment by January 1, 2000. By 13 September 2000, the ITA had 38 participants (counting the 15 EU member countries as one), accounting for 93% of trade in information technology products.

The Agreement on Basic Telecommunications (ABT) of 1997 saw 69 countries make commitments to allow foreign companies to supply telecommunications services in their markets, most of which had until then been state-owned monopolies. The ABT is estimated to have opened up 95% of the world telecommunications market to competition, encouraging investment in new technologies and promoting pro-competitive regulatory principles. The ABT has contributed to the lowering of costs associated with telecommunications services.

©OECD Observer No 224, January 2001




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