The Information Technology Agreement: Sui generis or model stepping stone?

The Information Technology Agreement (ITA), negotiated in 1996, is a remarkably successful sectoral agreement. Broad coverage of products was achieved ex ante, rather than by building up coverage over “rounds” of negotiations tariff line by tariff line. A schedule for staged reductions of tariffs to zero was achieved ex ante, rather than tariff-reduction formulas becoming subjects for negotiation in themselves in subsequent rounds. Multilateral country coverage was achieved nearly ex ante, in that the initial set of countries agreed on the rules, many additional countries joined bandwagon-style in the initial months following inception of the agreement, and nearly half of all WTO member countries have joined as of 2007.

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