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International Trade

ESIA aims to facilitate cooperation between its members and to proactively represent the European semiconductor industry’s issues related to international trade at both the European and global level. In this context, international trade topics, including for example export controls, customs policies around Authorised Economic Operators (AEOs), and the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade play an important role. ESIA advocates open markets for all semiconductor products including e.g. semiconductors with encryption capabilities, and semiconductor-based transducers, as well as further liberalisation in the context of the World Trade Organization (WTO), more specifically the Information Technology Agreement (ITA).

The semiconductor industry has an interest in facilitating growth by advocating free and open markets and by eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers for all semiconductor products.

The International Trade Committee coordinates the above-mentioned activites.

Export Control

Many semiconductors industry products and technologies - at the front of new markets and innovations - are classified as dual-use. They include commercial applications which are widely available such as smart cards. The classification under dual use implies the necessity of obtaining export licenses, creating additional administrative burdens with the risk that customers buy foreign available products.

Every type of semiconductor product/application can be impacted, in particular semiconductor products with cryptographic capabilities (banking, transport, mobile communications, but also computer, set top boxes using smartcards, etc.)

Customs Classification

Duty rates, scope and application of international agreements, such as the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), trade remedies, statistics, they all need a common understanding on how a good is identified worldwide, which is the international customs classification.

As international trade becomes more complex, international customs classifications are becoming the main multi-purpose tool to help governments and industry for fiscal and regulatory compliance. Semiconductor products are evolving everyday with technology, and customs classifications are not revised as often to catch the new products in the right category, or to catch them at all. Classification revisions ensure that the classifications are kept up to date in the light of changes in technology or in patterns of international trade.

The International Trade Committee is working to ensure that classification revisions capture correctly the new products on the market, or give input where an interpretation of the related heading is required.

Information Security

International trade and modern communications rely more and more on information exchanged in digital form. Consequently the development and the ubiquity of information technology has driven the commercial demand for privacy and security (protection from theft or unauthorized access) with encryption as one of the primary means to achieve this.

The use of encryption has become widespread in many commercial applications, being incorporated in most semiconductor devices intended for end-use in mass market and information infrastructure products. As a result, the great majority of encryption applications involve every day commercial products commonly used and traded in the global marketplace.

ESIA believes that encryption regulations shall not be used for the purpose of limiting market access to foreign products and considers that commercial products with cryptographic capabilities should, as a general matter, not be regulated.

To the extent that encryption regulation is necessary, ESIA and the WSC recommend the following best practices:

Modernisation of Union Customs Code

An important factor for the competitiveness of European semiconductor industry is a highly automated supply chain with low administration and handling costs and short transit times. In this context, the reform of the European Customs system is in process and ESIA delivers input as a participant in the Trade Contact Group. This latter is a consultative body composed by industries and the European Commission (DG TAXUD).

Rules of Origin

All goods traded need to have a determined origin: for statistical reasons, trade measures (antidumping, anti-subsidies measures, preferential treatment). “Rules of origin” (RoO) are the criteria used to define where a product was made.


Peter Proebster - Infineon Technologies

May 2022: Global Tech Industry Calls for Another Ambitious Expansion of ITA to Address Sweeping Global Challenges

November 2021: Global Industry Statement on the WTO Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions

September 2021: ESIA presentation to the WTO Information Technology Agreement Workshop on Further Expansion of Trade in Semiconductors

January 2021: Multi-Industry Statement on Cross-Border Data Transfers and Data Localization Disciplines in WTO Negotiations on E-Commerce

December 2020: ESIA presentation to the EU Export Control Forum 2020 on the Controls on intangible items & emerging technologies

April 2020: ESIA’s Comments on the European Commission’s Roadmap “Taking the Customs Union to the next level

March 2020: ESIA’s Comments on China’s “Opinions on the Implementation of Commercial Cryptography Testing and Certification (Draft for Comments)

December 2019: ESIA Comments on the Guidance on Customs Valuation

December 2019: ESIA presentation to the EU Export Control Forum 2019 on Harmonisation and Level playing field

December 2019: ESIA Comments in support of the trilogue negotiations on the recast of the Dual-Use Regulation

September 2019: DIGITALEUROPE and ESIA response to the Chinese Draft Cryptography Law

April 2019: ESIA Submission for the WCO Conference on Revitalizing the Harmonized System: What is needed for a 21st century HS?

December 2018: ESIA presentation to the EU Export Control Forum 2018 on the Impact of New Technologies on Export Controls

October 2018: WSC Best Practices Recommendations on Trusted Traders (AEO)

October 2018: European Business Calls for Swift Ratification of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

June 2017: ESIA views on the recast Dual-Use Regulation

November 2016: Implementation of the Union Customs Code (UCC): Joint Industry Definition of “Exporter”

September 2014: ESIA joins the ITA Global Statement

April 2014: ESIA position paper on the EU-Japan FTA negotiations

April 2014: How ITA Expansion Benefits the Chinese and Global Economies

November 2013: EU industry joint letter on ITA expansion

November 2013: EU-Japan Summit - Joint statement by 20 business organisatins

July 2013: Global Industry calls for Swift and Ambitious Expansion of the ITA

July 2013: Global Industry calls for Expansion of the ITA - Letter to Vice Premier of RP China

June 2013: Position Paper - EU-US Transantlantic Trade and Investement Partnership (TTIP)

May 2013: WCS calls for Expansion of the ITA - Letter to WTO Permenant Missions of ITA members

February 2013: ESIA position on Non-Preferential Rules of Origin in the framework of the Union Customs Code

November 2012: Statement - EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement

June 2011: Commission Sector fiche - EU Trade in Electronics