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USTR Froman Welcomes EU Action to Ensure Duty-Free Treatment for High-Tech Products as a Result of U.S. Victory in WTO Dispute

Washington, D.C. – United States Trade Representative Michael Froman welcomed the European Union’s (EU) adoption of a European Council regulation ensuring duty-free treatment for flat panel displays, following a successful WTO dispute brought by the United States. Under the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA), a number of WTO Members, including the EU and the United States, agreed to eliminate duties on numerous high-tech products. In a dispute brought by the United States, European Communities – Tariff Treatment of Certain Information Technology Products, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body found that the EU had failed to comply with its obligations under the ITA to provide duty-free treatment for flat panel displays and other information technology products. Japan and Taiwan were co-complainants in the dispute.

“We welcome the EU’s legislation ensuring duty-free treatment for flat panel displays. Eliminating duties on these and other high-tech products was a key achievement of the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement, and a commitment we are determined to see enforced,” Ambassador Froman said. “The high-tech sector is a vital part of our economy and has played a leading role in many states’ economic growth. We look forward to working with the European Union to promote new technologies and expand job-supporting exports for U.S. businesses in this important sector.”

Background

The WTO ITA was a major achievement of the post-Uruguay Round WTO that resulted in the elimination of duties on a wide range of high-tech products. The United States, along with Japan and Taiwan, brought this case in 2008, to address a series of EU actions resulting in the imposition of new duties on imports of high-tech products covered by the ITA. The EU measures affected three key products: (1) cable, satellite, and other set-top boxes, (2) flat panel computer monitors, and (3) certain computer printers that can also scan, fax and/or copy.