Boost for US as WTO Rules Against EU Duties

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The World Trade Organization has ruled that the European Union should not have imposed duties on certain electronics products imported from the U.S., Japan and Taiwan. The Geneva-based body has also ordered that the duties must be lifted otherwise the E.U. 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 E.U. argues that the goods in question -- flat-panel displays, multifunction printers and television set-top boxes -- do not fall into the high-tech category and has taxed them as normal consumer goods at rates from 6 percent to 14 percent. If duties are dropped to 0 percent as required by the WTO, it could result in lower prices for consumers.

E.U. imports of the three products totaled about $11 billion in 2007. The Washington, D.C.-based Information Technology Industry Council welcomed the ruling while officials in Taiwan have claimed the ruling would save exporters of flat-screens tariffs up to $611 million a year.

The E.U. has 60 days to appeal the decision.

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