United Kingdom says to proceed with digital tax despite U.S. threat

24 Janvier, 2020, 16:22 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Trade war ignited? UK risks wrath of US after vowing to go ahead with digital tax on tech giants like Google and Facebook

British Chancellor Sajid Javid has committed the United Kingdom to enforcing a digital services tax on global tech companies, despite threats from the U.S. that they may respond by putting "taxes on their auto companies" - risking a trade war.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attends a session during the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos January 22, 2020.

Trump, speaking to US media outlets at Davos, reiterated his threat to further tariff imports from the European Union should a trade deal between the USA and the bloc not be reached.

On Wednesday, France agreed to delay its tax on big tech firms like Google and Facebook in exchange for a US promise to hold off its retaliatory tariffs on French cheese and wine.

Austria introduced its own digital tax in January, but France has suspended its plans.

The U.S. has said that the French tax discriminates against American technology companies, citing Section 301 of a 1974 American law that Trump has thus far reserved to justify tariffs against China.

The U.K. government plans to go ahead with a tax on digital services in April, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid said in Davos.

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Secretary Mnuchin has threatened to slap stiff tariffs on mainly automobile imports when United Kingdom carmakers are facing a prolonged recession forcing employee lay-offs. "I thought we'd go first", he said.

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid's apparent flip-flop over post-Brexit alignment with European Union (EU) trade policies may complicate discussions for a trade deal with the U.S. Although Chancellor Javid was calming the nerves of British businesses anxious about a clean break, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is unlikely to be amused. He said a deal was "an absolute priority" for the president.

Though the U.S.is important, Britain conducts far more business with the other 27 countries of the European Union - that's why so many businesses want economic relations to be as close as possible.

Possible tariff reductions were left to later negotiations, known as "phase two". On Thursday the Chancellor will address British businesses at an annual lunch in the Swiss alpine resort and is likely to face questions on his warnings they'll need to adjust to new rules after Brexit because the United Kingdom won't align with European regulations. Most trade experts had expected the talks to run beyond that date, given the complexity of the issues to be addressed.

Mr Mnuchin continued the criticism on Thursday. "If we get it done before the election, good".

The announcement of more tax cuts come at a time when the US budget deficit ballooned to more than $1 trillion for 2019 - and is projected to be above $1 trillion for the next decade at least. But Mr. Mnuchin defended their use, saying China and other countries wouldn't have come to the negotiating table without their imposition.

Kudlow was fairly vague on how the tax cuts would work and basically admitted they were an incentive for Trump's reelection during a Fox Business interview last October.

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