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Swedes launch campaign to dodge iPad duties

Vivian Tse · 26 Nov 2010, 12:10

Published: 26 Nov 2010 12:10 GMT+01:00

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The iPad tablet PC is expected to officially launch in Sweden as early as this week and after internal and EU-level discussions, the Swedish Customs Service (Tullverket) decided to follow the precedent set by UK Customs to classify the iPad as a computer and not a media player.

Computers can be imported into Sweden duty-free, while media players are subject to a 13.9 percent levy in the country.

"We have categorised it as a computer pending a final decision from Brussels. These decisions are made at the European level because they are harmonised across the EU," explained Anette Malmberg, communications director at the Swedish Customs Service, to The Local.

However, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce believes the classification is not so obvious.

"When you import the iPad into Sweden, if Customs decides to classify it as a media player, the price customers pay will be higher, that's the way tariffs work," Maria Rankka, CEO of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, told The Local.

The greater aim of the organisation's "My iPad is a computer" Facebook-campaign is to urge Customs, the EU and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to "modernise" their classifications for IT products.

Rankka pointed out that the WTO's Technology">Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which aims to lower all taxes and tariffs on IT products by signatories to zero, dates back to 1996.

"The development has been so rapid, a lot of new and modern products are not covered by this agreement. There are tariffs on a lot of new products," explained Rankka.

She cited smartphones as an example, saying that after discussions, they have been treated as ordinary phones.

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"The problem increases when you have multifunctional products. Is a smartphone a TV, phone, compute...you name it?" she asked.

She agreed that all EU member states should follow the British example so that there is only one classification across the EU, but added that trade does not happen only within the EU.

"There really is a need for a better agreement for IT products. The development doesn't stop with the iPad," she said.

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Vivian Tse (vivian.tse@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:58 November 26, 2010 by Ranjit T Edward
Interesting! No one is even sure if Apple has made a decision on that front!!! Now the EU can decide for them!
15:08 November 26, 2010 by eovti
Of course iPads & other tablets are computers! What is the definition of a computer? That it has a physical qwerty keyboard? That just doesn't make sense.
15:52 November 26, 2010 by Ranjit T Edward
After all, it does calculations and other manipulations of various types of data, under the control of a stored set of instructions. Computer it is!!!!
16:02 November 26, 2010 by reason
I've seen people run advanced finite element method simulation software on them. Definitely a computer. Although some people use their computers as media players.
18:00 November 26, 2010 by spidernik84
Considering we're moving towards a complete convergence of multimedia devices (phones, pc, mediaplayer = smartphone), considering an iPad a multimedia player would be limiting.
14:20 November 29, 2010 by BrittInSweden
@eovti The UK's definition of a computer is if it has its own programming language. PS2 shipped into the UK as a computer as it had a version of BASIC with it and was used to make Vib Ribbon.
19:17 November 29, 2010 by mojofat
@brittinsweden By that logic iphones and android phones should be classified as computers. As should Arduinos. :)

@eovti Why is it so obvious that iPads are computers? I use my ipad in a completely different way from my laptop, so to me they're not similar. My laptop is the "computer" while the ipad is a media device I primarily use for reading, watching video, checking email, surfing the web, and taking notes. I'm not necessarily disagreeing that it is a computer, I just do not believe it's so obvious and think that perhaps those categorical definitions are changing.
00:32 November 30, 2010 by mkvgtired
Why are Swedes protesting taxes on such an indulgent item? I was just reading the outrage over a qualified CEOs pay. Steve Jobs founded Apple and is now reaping the benefits of about $100 million per year (excluding last year). If anything they should be calling for higher taxes on this item and boycotting this product. Sorry for the sarcasm but I would like to get some people thinking about how their mental process works.

Just sign the ITA like much of the rest of the civilized world and make things easy. It is not like Sweden does not export IT products, its win-win.
00:11 December 1, 2010 by eZee.se
I've said it before and I shall say it again:


Censored the C word... and keep in mind: Not safe for work.
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