12/12/2008 9:57:00 AM
EU proposes import tax on phones with GPS or TV
The European Commission is in discussions about a proposal that could see an import tax of up to 14% imposed on mobile phones with a built-in GPS receiver or TV functionality.
According to sources, the move could increase the price of mobile devices with either one, or both, features by as much as 25%.
The European Union has already imposed a range of import taxes on devices that can be used as a TV with an external tuner, but mobile phones are currently duty free under the 1996 Information Technology Agreement.
The European Commission said: ‘Some mobile phones have many functions these days – personal digital assistant, mobile telephony, a camera, GPS, radio, television. It would be more appropriate to refer to these as “apparatus with multiple functions, including mobile telephony” as they are more than just mobile phones.’
It is thought that the tax on GPS-enabled devices is due to increasing pressure from European device manufacturers in Germany and the Netherlands.
The import tax is heavily opposed by the European Information and Communications Technology Association, which is backed by companies including Apple, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and LG Electronics.
Analysts said the move could impact heavily on operators as well as the handset manufacturers. One analyst said the idea ‘is not good news’. He added: ‘There are not many operators that can increase subsidies at the moment.’