US, EU tech trade row gets serious

Formal objection made

EU flag

The US has made a formal request for the World Trade Organisation to review technology import definitions which it accuses the EU of using for protectionist purposes.

The row has been going on for some time over the issue of definitions included in the International Technology Agreement. The US government accuses Europe of over-zealously defining devices as outside the ITA and therefore subject to taxes.

US trade ambassador Susan Schwab said: "We regret that formal consultations have not been successful in resolving our concerns over the duties that the EU is imposing on several high-tech products.”

The EU denied this when the first complaint was made in May and said it could only renegotiate the ITA if all signatories wanted to.

The disagreement focuses on whether a set-top box which includes hard disc recording should be defined as a video recorder, and whether an LCD screen is purely a computer monitor or also a consumer product when designed for use as a TV or DVD screen.

The final category of disagreement is that of multifunctional copiers, which was to cover all copiers but then was tweaked to exclude two types. ®

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