Playstation 2 EU import duties no game, says Sony

Goods imported into the EU are classified under a series of standard Commodity Codes, to ensure import duties in all member states are imposed on, for example, spades in the same way as on other digging implements.

Sony had applied for the Playstation 2 to be classified as digital processing equipment, Commodity Code 8471, a category that includes PCs and which attracts no import duties. However, Her Majesty's Customs and Excise (HMC&E), which assesses import duties for UK companies, treated the console like its predecessor the Playstation, and classified it under Commodity Code 9504, video games.

This means SCEE must pay a duty of 2.2 per cent on each console imported, said Liz Ashford, the company's director of public relations. This could put around around $19 on the recommended 299-pound (approximately $809) recommended retail price of the console. PS 2 has a suggested retail price in Australia of $749.

The HMC&E decision is valid for all countries in the EU, since rulings on duty issues have been harmonised across the union. In this case, HMC&E makes the ruling since SCEE, Sony's European arm, is incorporated in the UK.

"We are not happy with the ruling, because we passionately believe the Playstation 2 meets all the criteria stated under Commodity Code 8471," she said.

The company's next move is to apply for a "departmental review" at which it will appeal against the ruling, said Ashford. "Although the appeal has not left our offices yet, it is a 100 percent certainty that we will apply for it."

With the Playstation 2 due to launch in Europe on November 24, Sony will be looking for a quick response to its appeal. "I don't anticipate it being months and months," said Ashford.

HMC&E could not immediately be reached for comment.

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