World Trade Organisation to tackle EU on tariffs on flat screens

The World Trade Organisation is expected to ask the European Union to drop import tariffs on flat-panel displays, multifunction printers and TV set-top boxes.

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The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is expected to ask the European Union to drop import tariffs on flat-panel displays, multifunction printers and TV set-top boxes.

The move will follow an expected preliminary finding that the tariffs violate the WTO's information technology agreement, Reuters reports.The EU imported about $11bn (£7.49bn) worth of the three products in 2007, collecting tariffs of 6% to 14%.

In 2008 the US, Japan and Taiwan complained to the WTO that EU customs officials had reimposed tariffs on the goods after new features such as hard drives were added to allow set top boxes to record TV shows.The European Commission has lost a similar case in the European Court of Justice, which held that it was taking an overly narrow interpretation.

The WTO action seems to have chilled customs officers' willingness to tax other IT equipment, including smartphones.

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