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 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.
“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.