United States threatens tariffs on French goods over digital tax
03 Décembre, 2019, 16:10 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
While insisting that a trade war is "not in anyone's interest", Le Maire said France talked this week with the European Commission about EU-wide retaliatory measures if Washington follows through with the tariffs next month.
It would impose a 3% annual levy on French revenues of digital companies with yearly global sales worth more than €750m ($830m) and French revenue exceeding €25m ($27.7m).
"In case of new American sanctions, the European Union would be ready to retaliate", Le Maire told Radio Classique.
Sparkling wines had been left off that list of tariffs but are a target this time around, along with handbags, porcelain, cheeses, yoghurt and other French products.
"We can see that the United States is shifting into reverse", Le Maire said, reported AFP, adding that while the USA had expressed interest in an "international solution" from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Washington "now isn't sure it wants one".
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France has been one of the most vocal governments to push for taxes to be paid, based on digital activity, not where companies have their headquarters. It said it found the French tax proposal was "unusually burdensome for affected United States companies", including Alphabet Inc's Google, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc.
Hermes was around 1.9 percent lower, while LVMH and Kering fell by 1.3 percent and 1.2 percent respectively.
"It's too risky to go into the luxury sector".
French products will not face tariffs immediately as the US Trade Representative still intends to gather public comments and hold a public hearing in January. The European Commission did not immediately react to the USA trade threat.
The tariff spat marks a new low in relations between French President Emmanuel Macron and Trump, who will meet on the sidelines of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit later on Tuesday.
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The USTR rejected that argument, saying it saw no basis in the report to justify reducing US retaliatory tariffs. Adding to the complexity: The WTO's appellate body is set to become unable to hear new cases starting next week.
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