Apec officials move towards abolition of high-tech tariffs

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 August, 1996, 12:00am

Support for a radical United States-sponsored proposal to abolish tariffs on information technology products is growing among officials of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting in Davao.

Officials reported a warmer reception for the proposals, which had threatened to introduce acrimony into discussions by the 18-member group.

If Apec achieves a consensus on the suggested information technology agreement in time for action to be agreed upon at the leaders' summit to be held in Manila in November, it would be seen as firm evidence that the pan-Pacific grouping had moved on from visionary statements to action.

Federico Macaranas, chairman of the senior officials' meeting, reported that while there were still demands for more details of the information technology proposals, there was now agreement on the steps to be taken.

A number of issues had been resolved, and it had been agreed that the technical aspects of the products to be covered by the agreement would be investigated by Apec's committee on trade and investment.

'Some people feel there are already too many products covered, some feel that there are too few. The number depends on the state of your economic involvement in information technology. This has to ironed out,' he said.

The committee is expected to report ahead of the fourth senior officials' meeting of Apec to be held in Manila in November, which precedes the leaders' summit, where steps to implement the agreement could be agreed. There would also be further consultations in October, when benefits to Apec would be examined.

Apec support for the agreement would be seen by its supporters as a major step in having it accepted by the World Trade Organisation.