The United States formally asked the World Trade Organization to convene a dispute panel to address technology import definitions used by the European Union.
Washington charges that the EU is over-zealous in its definition of many high-tech devices designed and sold by U.S. companies under the terms of the WTO's International Technology Agreement, a 1996 accord aimed at limiting barriers to high-tech trade, therefore subjecting them to import duties.
The disagreement is centered on hard drive video recording technology, computer screens and multi-function copiers worth $70 billion in annual global sales.
The office of the United States Trade Representative said that the EU is charging duties on products incorporating technologies that did not exist at the launch of the ITA, which now has 71 signatories. "In effect the EU is taxing innovation -- a move that could impair continued technological development in the information technology industry and raise prices for millions of businesses and consumers," the USTR said in a statement.
The request will be addressed by the WTO's dispute settlement body Aug. 29.
Japan and Taiwan joined the U.S. in requesting the dispute panel.
-- Alan Field