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Tariff cut could reduce prices on tech products from GPS to gaming systems

The Associated Press
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A customer looks over Hewlett Packard ink cartridges for his printer at Best Buy in Mountain View, Calif. More than 50 countries in the World Trade Organization have agreed to eliminate tariffs on 200 technology products, including video game consoles, printer cartridges and GPS devices. Photo taken Feb. 16, 2010.
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Xbox One consoles are on display at a Best Buy store in Evanston, Ill. More than 50 countries in the World Trade Organization have agreed to eliminate tariffs on 200 technology products, including video game consoles, printer cartridges and GPS devices. Photo taken Nov. 22, 2013.

BERLIN — Prices for video game consoles, home entertainment systems and GPS devices could soon fall since major trade powers agreed Friday to cut tariffs on about 200 technology products.

The Geneva-based World Trade Organization said 49 of its members — including the United States, China and the European Union — reached a tentative accord to expand the 1996 Information Technology Agreement after three years of talks.

“Today’s agreement is a landmark,” said WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo. “Annual trade in these 201 products is valued at over $1.3 trillion per year, and accounts for approximately 7 percent of total global trade today. This is larger than global trade in automotive products — or trade in textiles, clothing, iron and steel combined.”

For the deal to take effect, however, countries signing the accord must account for 90 percent of the global trade in technology products. Taiwan, a big producer of electronics, has faced considerable domestic pressure not to join. Along with four other countries — Thailand, Turkey, Columbia and Mauritius — Taiwan asked Friday for more time to consider the agreement.

Final details of the deal will be worked out by December, when trade ministers meet in Nairobi, Kenya.

Once implemented, the agreement will require countries to eliminate trade tariffs on most new-generation semi-conductors, satellite navigation systems, medical products that include magnetic resonance imaging machines, machine tools for manufacturing printed circuits, telecommunications satellites and touch screens within three years starting in 2016, the WTO said.

“This deal will cut costs for consumers and business, in particular for smaller firms, which have been hit especially hard by excessive tariffs in the past,” EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement.

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