Following many rounds of unsuccessful bilateral talks on resolving a trade row, the EU has referred its complaint about import duties to the WTO. Brussels feels Brazil has unfairly favored domestic producers.
The European commission on Thursday launched its case against Brazil at the World Trade Organization with the request for the UN body to look into the Latin American nation's import tax policy.
EU exporters had been angered by Brazil's 30-percent tax on imported vehicles as well as by levies on goods ranging from computers to smartphones and semiconductors that domestic producers didn't have to pay.
"The protection of Brazil's domestic industry comes at the expense of Europe's imported goods and that is unacceptable," Brussels said in a statement.
Protectionism still an issue
Brazil and the EU now have 60 days to try to settle the dispute, with sanctions looming, if no solution is found.
The European Union is Brazil's largest trade partner, accounting for about a fifth of its total exports. EU exports to the emerging economy were worth more than 39 billion euros ($54 billion) in 2012.
The EU executive stressed the current dispute must have no bearing on bilateral talks on a free-trade agreement through which Europe wants to see trade obstacles reduced, while Brazil eyes greater access to EU markets particularly for its agricultural produce, especially beef.
hg/jlw (Reuters, dpa)