Timeline: March 2019 – December 2019
Donor: Australia (DFAT)
Beneficiary: Lao People’s Democratic Republic
The WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) was concluded in December 1996 by 29 WTO Members. Since then, the number of participants has increased to 82, which covers about 97% of world trade in covered IT products. The participants of this WTO plurilateral agreement have undertaken a commitment to bind and eliminate tariffs (and other duties and charges) on imports of IT products covered by the Agreement. Subsequently, at the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in December 2015, 54 WTO Members have concluded the expansion of ITA (ITA II) to take into account technological developments. ITA II covers additional 201 products and is valued at over $1.3 trillion per year. Most participants have started the implementation as of 1 July 2016. The ITA 1996 and ITA II are open for any other Member to join.
Lao PDR is not participating in ITA 1996 and ITA II, however the Government of Lao PDR, notably the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC), is interested in initiating the process of joining both ITA 1996 and ITA II (herein after referred to as ITA).
The specific objectives include:
- Facilitating internal processes related to Lao PDR joining the ITA through ensuring relevant mandates and national consensus;
- Ensuring that Lao PDR’s schedule of concessions reflects its interests and sensitivities;
- Strengthening the capacities in Lao PDR to ensure that it can reap benefits from participation in the ITA and fully implement the agreements.
“ The overall objective of the assistance to Lao PDR is facilitating the process of joining ITA taking into account Lao PDR’s national interests and development objectives.”
The following activities are envisaged:
- Support in preparing the proposal of mandate to negotiate ITA participation to be submitted to the Government and Parliament of Lao PDR, with rationale for the initiative.
- Support in negotiations to (i) elaborate draft schedule of commitments; (ii) respond to questions raised by ITA participants in the negotiating process; (iii) foster internal coordination.
- Strengthening the capacities by :
- Organizing the seminar for the private sector and other stakeholders to raise awareness on the ITA initiative and how Lao PDR could benefit from participation therein.
- Strengthening implementation capacities through a three-day peer learning event organized in Vientiane for Lao PDR’s customs officials to exchange on the practices and experience of customs officials from an ITA participating country.