Taiwan has decided to file the country's first ever complaint with the World Trade Organization, joining with Japan and the U.S. in seeking the elimination of European Union tariffs on certain Information Technology products, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Since 2006, the EU has imposed import duties as high as 14 percent on 19-inch or larger liquid crystal displays, set top boxes and multifunctional printers, by categorizing them as electrical appliances instead of IT products.
Under the WTO Information Technology Agreement, 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.
"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.
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.