The price of computer monitors is likely to rise sharply after the imposition of a 14 per cent import duty on the devices by one EU member state.
Dutch Customs is already levying the duty on some importers even though the European Commission has yet to make a final decision about applying the rule.
As most LCD monitors are imported into Europe through Rotterdam following manufacture in the Far East, importers are warning they will have to pass on the charges to the consumer.
At the moment computer monitors are zero-rated for import duty. But advances in technology have led to the European Union Committee on Excise Duties wanting to reclassify monitors as 'all-purpose' devices and impose the higher rate, which currently only applies to TVs and plasma monitors.
The decision must first be ratified by the European Commission, and most member states' customs agencies are waiting to see if the industry is successful in lobbying against the duty.
LCD manufacturer Viewsonic claims that Dutch Customs has also left the door open to levy duty retroactively on importers who so far have not been asked to pay.
Russell Cole, Viewsonic's European LCD product marketing manager, said Dutch Customs already backdates the duty for some products imported just before Christmas 2003.
"If they don't close the paperwork it means importers will be hit with the duty even though they have sold the monitors at the existing price," he said.
Industry trade body the European Information, Communications and Consumer Electronics Technology Industry Associations is continuing to lobby against the proposal and will hold meetings with the EU Committee between Monday 19 and Wednesday 21 April.
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