U.S. mulls response to France's digital tax

Andrew Cummings
December 3, 2019

The office of the US Trade Representative says it's looking at imposing tariffs of up to an additional 100 percent on 2.4 billion dollars' worth of French products.

France and the European Union are ready to fight back over the latest United States tariff threats on French products, French government ministers said on Tuesday.

"The USTR is focused on countering the growing protectionism of European Union member states, which unfairly targets US companies, whether through digital services taxes or other efforts that target leading US digital services companies".

File photo of Bruno Le Maire, France's finance minister, July 18, 2019.


French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire branded the USA threat unacceptable and said the French tax did not discriminate against American companies.

"In case of new American sanctions, the European Union would be ready to riposte", Le Maire told Radio Classique.

As well as threatening new tariffs on a series of French imports, the USA administration said it would consider whether to impose "fees or restrictions" on French services.

He later told a press conference: "We are not targeting any country".


France's junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said on Tuesday: "It is very clear that we do not need to go back on this, with regards to a topic that economically speaking makes sense", referring to the digital tax.

It said the tax was "unusually burdensome" for U.S. companies including Alphabet's Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

French wine and cheese are on the list of goods that could be targeted as soon as mid-January, as well as handbags, porcelain, yoghurt and other French products. "The USTR is focused on countering the growing protectionism of European Union member states, which unfairly targets US companies, whether through digital services taxes or other efforts that target leading US digital services companies".

Hermes was around 1.9pc lower, while LVMH and Kering fell 1.3pc and 1.2pc respectively.


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