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Taiwan decides to file its first WTO complaint

Taiwan decides to file its first WTO complaint

Taiwan has decided to file the country's first-ever complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), joining with Japan and the U.S. in seeking the elimination of European Union tariffs on certain Information Technology (IT) products, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said Tuesday.
Since 2006, the EU has imposed import duties as high as 14 percent on 19-inch or larger liquid crystal displays (LCDs), set top boxes and multifunctional printers, by categorizing them as electrical appliances instead of IT products.
Under the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA), signed by 70 countries responsible for 97 percent of the world's IT trade, IT products are supposed to enjoy duty free treatment.
The MOEA said in a statement Tuesday that following May 28 requests from the U.S. and Japan to investigate and rule on the EU tariffs, Taiwan had decided to join hands with the two countries and become one of the plaintiffs in the case.
The WTO's trade dispute settlement procedure, often regarded as "the world court of trade," is vital for enforcing the rules and therefore for ensuring that trade flows smoothly, but Taiwan has never been a party to any trade dispute, apart from participating in other members' litigation as a third party.
The ministry said it will soon follow the procedure to request a negotiation with the EU.
"If such a bid fails to resolve the dispute, Taiwan will request the WTO to establish a court of trade and file a motion for a lawsuit," the ministry said in the statement.
Citing the global reach of Taiwan's IT industry, which has already been hurt by the EU tariffs, the statement said local IT vendors might be forced to move overseas if the ministry fails to take action to eliminate the EU import duties.
"In the future, U.S. and Japanese brands could be forced to seek procurement deals with Eastern European suppliers," the statement warned in describing the potential impact of not pursuing the case.
The interests of Taiwan's LCD makers have been hurt by the EU duties more than other local industrial sectors, as the EU has collected as much as NT$19.6 billion (US$650 million) in import duties on Taiwanese LCD exports, valued at NT$140 billion, according to official figures.
The U.S. estimated that US$70 billion of its own trade interests were at stake due to the EU tariffs, the ministry added.
To protect such interests, the ministry has conducted scores of discussions with various government and private stakeholders over the past year to evaluate all possible options in handling the trade disputes, the statement said.
The ministry also said a legal team specializing in trade issues has been exchanging ideas regarding the case with the U.S. and Japan's WTO representatives in preparation for the trade litigation.


Updated : 2021-06-24 14:38 GMT+08:00