Taiwan to file WTO case against European Union IT tariffs

Business Materials 1 August 2008 03:54 (UTC +04:00)

Taiwan will join the United States and Japan in filing a complaint under the World Trade Organization's framework over a tariff dispute with the European Union, press reports said Friday. ( dpa )

Taiwan plans to pursue the WTO case to force the EU to eliminate tariffs on certain information technology (IT) products with pretrial consultations have achieved no resolution so far, according to Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA).

If there is no satisfactory outcome when the 60-day consultation ends on August 11, Taiwan may file the WTO complaint on August 12, CNA quoted Taiwan's negotiator Chen Chern-chyi as saying.

The US and Japan filed complaints with the WTO on May 28 over EU tariffs on imported flat-screen monitors, some TV set-top boxes and printers able to scan, fax and copy.

Under the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA), signed by the 70 countries responsible for 97 per cent of the world's IT trade, IT products are supposed to enjoy duty-free treatment.

However, since 2006, the EU has imposed import duties as high as 14 per cent on 19-inch or larger liquid-crystal displays (LCDs), set- top boxes and multifunctional printers, categorizing them as electrical appliances rather than IT products.

When the 60-day consultation period expires, Taiwan's Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN) will request the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body to move for a lawsuit, hinting that the court could be established in September following the recess of WTO meetings in August.

Chen noted that the US and Japan have welcomed Taiwan's decision to join the case, as Taiwan manufactures more LCD panels than any other country.

The annual production value of Taiwan's LCD industry has reached 1 trillion Taiwan dollars (32.8 billion US dollars) since 2006 and is likely to generate 2 trillion Taiwan dollars (65.58 billion US dollars) by 2015, according to official statistics.

" Taiwan's participation in the lawsuit highlights the significance of the case for the world's IT industry," Chen said.

According to official tallies, the EU has collected as much as 19.6 billion Taiwan dollars (650 million US dollars) in import duties from Taiwanese LCD exports.