Brussels countered that the agreement did not apply since the products in question had taken on multiple functions

The World Trade Organization has ruled in favour of the U.S., Japan and Taiwan in their complaint against EU duties on high-technology products, a source close to the dispute told AFP on Monday.

“I can confirm that the panel ruled in favour of the US, Japan and Taiwan,” the source said.

The ruling was issued confidentially to the parties involved on Friday, according to trade sources.

It is expected to be circulated publicly at the “end of August or early September,” said the source close to the dispute.

The plaintiffs had accused the European Union of violating the WTO's Information Technology Agreement by imposing duties on imports of products including television set-top boxes, flat-screen panels and printers with multiple functions.

Brussels countered that the agreement did not apply since the products in question had taken on multiple functions.

For example, the EU maintains that the flat-panel computer monitors cited by the United States should properly be classified as video monitors because they can also be used with DVD players and thus fall out of the scope of the WTO agreement.

Likewise, set-top boxes with Internet access should be seen as video recorders because they can record live television, the EU said.

However, the U.S. said the EU was “manipulating tariffs to discourage technological innovation.''

The U.S. estimates that global exports of the affected products were worth more than $70 billion in 2007.

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