The European Commission is ready to end its current anti-dumping investigation into Japanese camera manufacturers, following the withdrawal of the original complaint by Europe's only broadcast camera manufacturer, Thomson Grass Valley. It is also likely that the existing levy on triax studio cameras, which has been in force since 1994, will be dropped - probably in time for IBC, writes David Fox.
At a meeting on May 24, the advisory committee recommended ending the year-long investigation, although that has yet to be ratified by the Council of Ministers. Some member countries did vote against (mostly southern European nations), mainly because they believe that the trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, has adopted a more laissez-faire attitude to trade than they would like rather than being specifically in support of continuing the camera levy.
Thomson had complained that the Japanese had been selling broadcast cameras and camcorders in the EU at artificially low prices (something the Commission had found them guilty of with regard to studio triax cameras in the past)
"This anti-dumping case should never have been launched in the first place," stated Panasonic Europe's CEO, Joachim Reinhart. "It included camcorders and box-cameras, both products which Europe does not produce and which do not compete with European industry."
"It was clear that the scope of this complaint was far too wide, and the product definitions provided by Grass Valley encompassed many more products than could logically be seen as competition for any Grass Valley offering," said Ian Scott, JVC Professional's UK director for pro video operations.
"We regard this likely outcome as a stunning victory for common sense and a tremendous boost for our industry as it embraces the challenges and opportunities presented by transition to High Definition."
In a statement, Grass Valley said: " We regard this as a victory for all parties in this matter. Grass Valley required only a fair market for cameras in Europe, and the EC's investigations have clearly demonstrated that this is the case. Users of broadcast cameras are now free to choose equipment purely on technical and operational grounds and not because of a distorted market.
"The EU's original imposition of tariffs to prevent dumping have had the required effect in levelling the market. Indeed, Sony - our principle competitor in the broadcast system camera sector - has now established a factory in the EU, creating new job opportunities for European skilled workers.
"We look forward to continuing sales success for our cameras in Europe as part of a fair and vigorous market."