EU to scrap monitor, printer, set-top box tariffs in June

The WTO ruling favoring Japan, Taiwan and the United States closes a 3-year-old case

World trade authorities have ordered the European Union to scrap tariffs on three types of consumer electronics from Taiwan, Japan and the United States no later than June, ending a 3-year-old trade dispute.

The World Trade Organization order will end tariffs on products like LCD flat-panel monitors bigger than 19 inches and with high-definition interface terminals, which had previously been taxed as televisions.

The cancelled tariffs also apply to multi-functional printers and television set-top boxes, Taiwan's economics ministry said Thursday. Exports from Japan and the United States, which filed WTO claim along with Taiwan in 2008, will see the same import tariffs cancelled. In 2007, E.U. imports of the three products came to about US$11 billion.

Taiwan, in its first WTO dispute since becoming a member of the trade body in 2002, had argued that the European Union violated a 1996 Information Technology Agreement that exempts tariffs on certain items. The European Union had levied tariffs of 6 to 14 percent.

Printers, monitors and set-top boxes are household appliances rather than "information technology" products, an official with Taiwan’s economics ministry said on Thursday. The European Union has "given up" the case and will not appeal the ban on tariffs, he said.

Companies in Taiwan, which relies on overseas sales of consumer electronics, should save from US$162 million to $609 million per year on tariffs, trade officials and media on the island estimated last year. Consumer electronics make up about 60 percent of Taiwan’s exports to the European Union.

Flat-panel screen manufacturers such as AU Optronics and Chi Mei Optoelectronics particularly stand to gain. European consumers, in turn, may end up paying lower retail prices.

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Tags peripheralsmonitorsChi Mei OptoelectronicsgovernmentAU Optronicstrade

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