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Outlawing India’s tech tariffs

  • Published
    3rd May, 2023


WTO dispute settlement panels have found India’s tariffs on certain information and communication technology (ICT) products such as mobile phones inconsistent with India’s WTO obligations. 

India’s arguments

  • Binding tariff commitments on ICT products: India argued that its binding tariff commitments on ICT products are contained in the WTO Ministerial Declaration on Trade in Information Technology Products (ITA Agreement), which India joined in 1997.
  • Static commitment: India’s contention that its commitments under the ITA are ‘static’. India argued that its commitments under the Goods Schedule do not include products that emerged due to technological innovations after the conclusion of the ITA.
  • Error commission: India argued that an error was committed during the transposition of its Goods Schedule from the HSN 2002 edition to the HSN 2007 edition.

Reasoning of the Panel

  • Violation of GATT norms: panels concluded that India has violated Article II of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) because India’s tariffs breach its Goods Schedule. 
  • ITA cannot override the tariff commitments: the panels held that the ITA cannot override the tariff commitments given in India’s Goods Schedule.
  • India failed to show that this assumption: the panels held that India failed to show that this assumption formed a necessary basis for India’s consent for the Goods Schedule.
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