Global talks to eliminate duties on information technology products reached an impasse this week, senior U.S. trade officials and others said.
However, the 46 countries taking part in the talks did agree Wednesday that a new round would begin April 30.The major sticking point is the continued failure by industrialized countries, led by the United States, and a handful of emerging nations in Asia to resolve differences over what would be covered by the World Trade Organization's Informational Technology Agreement II, now under discussion.
An accord would scrap all import duties on a wide range of additional IT products from flat panel displays and printed circuit boards to automated machines.
Such a package would build on the original ITA accord clinched in 1997 to eliminate all duties by 2000 on about 90 percent of IT products worth over $600 billion annually.
The United States, a world leader in the technology sector, has been under pressure from IT firms at home to reach a deal quickly.
Trade diplomats close to the talks said Malaysia is demanding that a final deal include a wide range of consumer electronics. India, meanwhile, insists that a pact should exclude security-sensitive equipment such as radars and other navigational apparatus.
Last December, 30 countries, including the United States, the European Union and Japan, agreed on a draft product list. But no final agreement was reached.