Proposed WTO Tariff Cuts to Include Medical Devices

July 31, 2015

Members of the World Trade Organization have signed a $1.3 trillion trade deal that would eliminate tariffs on more than 200 information technology products, including pacemakers and other essential medical devices.

“The (Information Technology Agreement’s) expansion is great news for the American workers and businesses that design, manufacture, and export state-of-the-art technology and information products, ranging from MRI machines to semiconductors to video game consoles,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman says in a prepared statement.

In addition to MRI machines and pacemakers, medical devices covered in this agreement include ultrasound machines, computed tomography scanners, certain ophthalmic instruments and appliances, and electrosurgical or electromedical instruments and appliances.

Gregory Sorenson, MD, president and CEO of Siemens Healthcare North America, says the expansion of the ITA “will have not only a direct impact on doctors and patients by improving access, but also will enable companies like Siemens to invest more in R&D, American jobs, and the U.S. economy,” according to a Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance Statement.

The majority of the tariffs will be eliminated within three years, with reductions beginning in 2016. By the end of October, each member will submit to the other participants a draft schedule explaining how the terms of the agreement will be met. Participants will consult with one another over the coming months with an eye on wrapping up technical work by the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in December. — Elizabeth Hollis