Customs authorities are considering moves that could add 14 per cent in tax to computer monitors with digital interfaces, according to Meko, a European market research consultancy.

New guidance from customs authorities indicates that computer monitors 'must be capable of displaying signals from a computer and no other source' say Meko. Customs have already interpreted this to mean that any Plasma monitor with DVI will be liable for the higher 14 per cent video monitor duty as some set-top boxes and DVD players have DVI outputs, the consultancy says.

Meko also point out that Plasma monitors with expansion slots, ports or internal space for adding video or DVI boards will also be classified as video monitors and that customs have said that they will be targeting LCDs next.

“This is a very significant issue for the computer industry," cautioned Bob Raikes of Meko. "The DVI digital interface is the future of monitors, with almost a third of all monitors world-wide already using the technology. DVI delivers better image quality and easier set-up to users. Furthermore, the monitor is often the most expensive component in a personal computer.”

“Adding 14 per cent duty will either penalise those in Europe that want to invest in a desktop computer, or force European buyers to do without the ergonomic advantages of digital interfaces. The EU wants to encourage high technology to help Europe to be a serious competitor in world technology markets. Adding significant cost to PCs doesn't seem to be a step in the right direction”, Raikes added.