by Nilanjan Banik and Philip Stevens
Nov. 9, 2015 1:04 ET
How Lower Tariffs Can Save Lives
Advancements in technology have made it easier and cheaper for many industries to manufacture goods. The World Trade Organization is currently pushing the Information Technology Agreement , which would allow for the elimination of all tariffs on high-tech products - including medical technologies. In practice, this will allow for more affordable access to health care and improvement of patient care.
According to the article, due to the placements of tariffs on medical devices in countries such as India, China, and Brazil are relatively high (7 to 16%), while more developed countries average at 0.5%. Therefore equipment that may be very affordable in the United States or the United Kingdom would be priced astronomically high in India and Africa - decreasing the access to healthcare.
Unfortunately, two countries, China and South Korea are preventing the ITA from proceeding. Each country has plans to lower tariffs in the next 7 years, while not long in theory, is extremely long in terms of the technology industry. Both countries have explained that their opposition is due to the fact that they want to protect their domestic industry. This logic is consistent with what we learned in chapters 2 and 18. It will be very interesting to see just what happens with this agreement and whether or not pressure from the other WTO nations will affect China and South Korea's decision.