B Law & Tax
26 October 2023

Tax advisor: The General Court of the EU annuls the additional customs duties on lighters from the USA

This decision stems from the appeal filed by the only known manufacturer of windproof metal mechanical lighters in the United States, Zippo Manufacturing.

The General Court of the European Union has revoked the additional tariffs imposed on certain lighters from the United States. This action comes in response to the appeal filed by the only known manufacturer of windproof mechanical lighters in the United States, Zippo Manufacturing, who argued that the European Commission violated the principle of good administration by not consulting with them beforehand.

The Court notes that, since the Commission knew, before implementing them, that the additional tariffs significantly affected Zippo’s lighters, it should have consulted with Zippo before imposing them. The General Court also believes that the Commission could have made a different decision if it had consulted with Zippo in advance.

In January 2020, the United States increased tariffs on imports of certain aluminum and steel products, which led the Commission to impose an additional tariff of 20% on imports of certain products from the United States, including Zippo Manufacturing lighters, from May 8, 2020, to December 31, 2021.

The General Court emphasizes that the tariff increase was carried out through a measure of general scope that was not specifically directed at Zippo but applied to all lighters of that type from the United States. Furthermore, it notes that the measure imposed by the Commission can only be challenged by the person or company that is individually and directly affected by it, which in this case applies to Zippo. Regarding the criterion of individual impact, the General Court highlights that Zippo appears to be the sole producer-exporter of this type of lighters from the United States to the European Union.

Therefore, in the judgment of the case issued on October 18, 2023, the General Court accepted Zippo’s appeal and revoked the tariff increase on this type of lighters. The Court considers that the Commission violated Zippo’s right to be consulted and, as a result, infringed the principle of good administration.


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