The World Trade Organisation has ruled that EU import duties on certain gadgets imported from the US, Japan and Taiwan are illegal.
An agreement reached in 1996 removed import tariffs on 72 different products in order to boost trade in technology goods.
But the European Union later moved some of these items into a taxable bracket because it now regards them as consumer items rather than high-technology devices.
This decision led to import duties of between six and 14 per cent being levied on set-top boxes, multi-function printers and flatscreen displays, according to Reuters The decision was secretly distributed last week but quickly found its way to news services.
An official from a complaining country - either US, Japan or Taiwan - told the newswire the panel accepted most of their arguments.
It is due to be officially published in August. After publication the EU has 60 days to appeal the decision. ®