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European customs duty for CMOS sensors suspended

A European ruling has suspended the customs duty on CMOS image sensors, avoiding what could have amounted to a 5 per cent import duty charge. The application, made by European distributor Framos, a large importer of CMOS sensors, was accepted by the European Commission with effect from 1 January 2013.

Framos achieved the Europe-wide suspension with the support of two members of the German Bundestag (lower house of parliament) and the industrial association VDMA.

As all of the main functional assemblies are housed on a chip, it is reasonable to allocate CCD and CMOS sensors to tariff group 8542 for integrated circuits and thus to account for them as exempt from duty. However, one possible interpretation is to class CMOS sensors in the tariff group ‘8529 – parts for television cameras’, since almost all sensors commonly used nowadays also contain purely optical elements (micro lenses, colour filters) without an electrical input or output signal. Under this interpretation, CMOS image sensors would be subject to duty. This could have had implications for the European vision community as a whole.

Framos filed an application to extend the customs duty suspension to cover CMOS sensors, which was approved with effect from 1 January 2013.

Dr Andreas Franz, CEO of Framos, commented in a statement: ‘This success delivers enormous financial relief for the image processing sector and European industry as a whole.’

Gerd Völpel, COO of Allied Vision Technologies, a European camera manufacturer and involved in the initiative as a member of the VDMA, echoed Dr Franz’ comment: ‘This customs suspension is good news for the whole European machine vision industry as it removes a competitive disadvantage [for EU camera manufacturers] verses non-EU competitors.’

Adding to this, Ronald Müller, responsible for marketing at Framos, commented: ‘For the future, the industry would have had to pay [the import duty]. Going forward, the implication is that the industry is saving on the sensor price from now on because of this achievement.’

The prevalence of CMOS sensors has increased in virtually every relevant branch of industry in recent years. The automotive industry, in particular, is increasingly reliant on imaging techniques and extensively on CMOS technology. There is also an upward trend for the use of CMOS in quality assurance, process automation and medical technology.

In order to get its application passed, Framos secured the support of two members of the German Bundestag, Florian Hahn (CSU) and Jimmy Schulz (FDP), as well as the industrial association VDMA. Dr Simon Che’Rose, technical director at Framos, stated: ‘After lengthy negotiations, the application was accepted by the European Commission. This decision is in the interest of the European Union and is justified by the economic relevance of image processing technology. It is a success for Framos, the image processing sector and European industry.’


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