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US-EU tech dispute under WTO investigation

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-12-10

The United States, Taiwan and Japan have filed a complaint with the WTO over European Union taxes on high-tech products, including computers and printers, claiming they violate the organisation's trade rules.

The World Trade Organisation is to rule on a challenge brought by the United States, Japan and Taiwan against the European Union over duties on high-technology products, sources told AFP on Tuesday.

The US and the two Asian countries have claimed that the European Union is violating WTO rules by imposing duties on imports of products including certain internet cable boxes, computer monitors and printers.

Earlier this month Brussels sought to stave off the dispute by proposing an update of the WTO agreement on high-technology products to include new models.

"We need an ITA (Information Technology Agreement) for the 21st century that will continue to benefit our consumers and businesses," EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said in a statement.

The EU Commission said that updating the ITA "would provide an additional boost in trade in these products and be the best way to address the increasing challenges of technological development and convergence."

But this failed to win over the other parties to the dispute, who reiterated their demand for a WTO panel to judge the case at a meeting of the organisation's Dispute Settlement Body on Tuesday, trade sources said.

Brussels blocked a first panel request in August but under WTO rules it was automatically adopted second time around.

The United States estimates that global exports of the affected IT products were more than 70 billion dollars in 2007.

Date created : 2008-09-23