EU waives appeal against WTO high-tech product ruling

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The European Union on Tuesday decided not to appeal a WTO ruling against EU duties on high-technology goods but called on countries to negotiate a new tariff-free deal on such products.

"The EU has decided not to appeal and will instead focus its efforts on implementation and -- in the hope other WTO members will now engage -- negotiations of an updated Information Technology Agreement which will be fit for the 21st century," a EU diplomat told a World Trade Organization meeting.

The WTO had ruled in August that EU duties on products including television set-top boxes, flat-screen panels and printers with multiple functions violated the ITA, an accord that eliminated duties for high-tech goods.

The EU justified the taxes saying that the products in question had taken on multiple functions and therefore did not fall under the ITA.

On Tuesday, the EU told WTO member states it was disappointed with the WTO's ruling on the case brought by the United States, Japan and Taiwan.

At the same time, Brussels called on member states to negotiate a revised ITA that took into account the fact that many new high-tech products now take on multiple functions.

"The EU remains of the view that it is by negotiation, not by litigation, that the scope of the ITA needs to be extended, and renews its call for an update of the ITA," it said.

With the EU's decision not to go ahead with an appeal, the findings by the WTO panel have been adopted by the trade body, thereby requiring Brussels to drop the taxes deemed to have violated WTO rules.

© 2010 AFP

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