Trade negotiators tentatively agreed to eliminate tariffs on an array of technology products valued at $1 trillion worth of global commerce.
The breakthrough toward the World Trade Organization’s Information Technology Agreement took place at an ambassadors’ meeting at the European Union embassy in Geneva.
“Very optimistic that we’ll have a final successful deal by the end of next week,” Roberto Azevedo, director-general of WTO, said on Twitter. “We have the basis for an agreement.”
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office hailed a “major breakthrough” in what would be the first significant tariff-cutting deal at WTO in 18 years.
“This will open overseas markets for some of America’s most competitive companies and workers,” USTR Michael Froman said in an e-mailed statement. “We are confident that all parties will now give formal approval to their participation in what would be the first tariff-elimination deal at the WTO in 18 years.”
In talks that started July 14, members took on the question of various tariffs, notably on LCD screens.
Tariffs on products including semiconductors, magnetic resonance imaging machines, GPS devices, printer ink cartridges and video game consoles would be cut to zero under the deal, according to the USTR office.
U.S. technology industry officials are hopeful the deal could enter into force as soon as July 2016.