Flat-panel displays, multifunction printers and set-top boxes from Japan, the US and Taiwan should be exempt from import duties in the European Union, according to World Trade Organisation (WTO). These duties must be lifted otherwise the EU faces trade sanctions.
According to the WTO, the European duties violate the 1996 Information Technology Agreement (ITA). This agreement, signed by 72 countries, designates certain goods as ‘high-tech’ exempting them from trade duties.
The EU argues that the goods in question do not fall into the high-tech category and has taxed them as normal consumer goods at rates from 6 percent to 14 percent. The EU argued that the flat-panel computer monitors cited by the United States should properly be classified as video monitors because they can also be used with DVD players and thus fall outside the scope of the WTO agreement.
Likewise, set-top boxes with Internet access should be seen as video recorders because they can record live television, the EU said. The EU has 60 days to appeal the WTO’s ruling.
(Picture of the WTO building in Geneva courtesy of WTO)