GENEVA (Reuters) The European Union on Friday blocked a World Trade Organization investigation of its duties on high-tech imported goods such as satellite boxes, flat-panel computer monitors, and digital scanners and printers.
Washington asked for a WTO panel to examine the tariffs Brussels imposes on products the US believes should get duty-free treatment under the Information Technology Agreement reached in 1996.
The EU invoked its right to block that first-time request for a panel, as is permitted under WTO rules. If the US submits a second request at the next Dispute Settlement Body meeting on September 23 the panel will be set up automatically.
In a statement, Brussels said the products listed in the U.S.-brought dispute were new and "objectively different" from the categories of high-tech goods enumerated in the 1996 accord.
Washington estimates that worldwide exports of the products covered by the dispute, made by companies like Hewlett-Packard and Canon, total more than $70B.
Japan and Taiwan are supporting the US panel request, and other electronics exporters such as China, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines have also shown interest in the dispute.