Tuesday, 27 July 2010

WTO rules that EU must cut duties on US gadgets

The Register reports,

The World Trade Organisation has ruled that EU import duties on certain gadgets imported from the US, Japan and Taiwan are illegal.

An agreement reached in 1996 removed import tariffs on 72 different products in order to boost trade in technology goods.

But the European Union later moved some of these items into a taxable bracket because it now regards them as consumer items rather than high-technology devices.

This decision led to import duties of between six and 14 per cent being levied on set-top boxes, multi-function printers and flatscreen displays, according to Reuters The decision was secretly distributed last week but quickly found its way to news services.

An official from a complaining country - either US, Japan or Taiwan - told the newswire the panel accepted most of their arguments.
Set aside the question of how you distinguish between "consumer items" and "high-technology devices". Set aside concerns about the expense involved in negotiating these treaties, funding the WTO, and fighting complaints lodged with them. Ignore the compliance costs for retailers and manufacturers, and the enforcement costs for tax inspectors. Ask yourself: do we really want Eurocrats driving up the price of gadgets from the US, Japan, and Taiwan?

We're better off out, where we can pursue free trade, unilaterally if necessary.

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