EU criticises WTO ruling on tech tariffs

A ROW has erupted between the EU and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over technology tariffs.

The EU has slammed a World Trade Organisation report that orders it to end duties on electronic products. Brussels is now mulling an appeal against the ruling.

The EU’s executive commission claims the WTO panel report fails to lay down markers for future reform of duty rules governing soaring global trade in electronics products.

The WTO panel’s findings back claims by the US, Japan and Taiwan that EU duties on flat-panel displays, multi-function printers and television set-top boxes violate the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA).

The EU argues that added functionality since the trade agreement was struck in 1996 means some products are now consumer goods rather than information technology, and so are not entitled to the zero tariffs. Brussels has imposed duties ranging from six to 14 per cent on the products.

US and Asian electronics producers, including Hewlett-Packard and Samsung, are keenly awaiting any sign that the EU might appeal the WTO panel’s findings. The EU has 60 days to file any appeal.