MOEA dismisses reports on ITA delegation rift

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Economics Ministry yesterday trashed reports that claimed differences within Taiwan’s delegation had undermined its efforts at the just-concluded negotiations on expanding the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) between World Trade Organization (WTO) members. The so-called ITA Expansion negotiations concluded in Geneva on Dec. 12 with WTO members failing to reach an agreement on expanding the scope of tariff-free information and technology products, but media reports in Taiwan claimed that the Taipei delegates saw differences between themselves.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), in a statement dismissing the claims, stressed that the Taipei delegation’s stance had been consistent, asking the local media to ��report the truth.�� The MOEA said the Taiwan delegation was formed by members from different government units and they had been closely working together and constantly seeking opinions from industry players throughout the Geneva talks, which started on Dec. 3. During the negotiation process, the Taipei delegation came under much pressure from its counterparts from Europe, the United States and Japan, but they were bent on defending Taiwan’s interests and there was never a split among the delegates, the ministry said. The MOEA said that Taiwan is confident about adding 200 product items to the ITA. If the ITA is eventually expanded, Taiwan exporters will be able to save US$823 million in tariffs when shipping their products to China, Hong Kong, the United States, South Korea and other countries, the MOEA said. Taiwan’s overall economy will also benefit from the ITA expansion, with its GDP expected to grow by 0.34 percent and an addition of more than 24,000 jobs, the MOEA estimated. �@�@The latest round of talks marks the third time in the past two years that attempts have failed to expand the scope of the ITA, a multi-lateral tariff-cutting pact launched in 1997 under the WTO.