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US Threatens 100% Tariffs on French Imports

Move would be retaliation for tech tax
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 3, 2019 12:42 AM CST
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Bernard Roques, a refiner of Societe company, smells a Roquefort cheese as they mature in a cellar in Roquefort, southwestern France.   (AP Photo/Bob Edme, File)
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(Newser) – The Trump administration is proposing tariffs on up to $2.4 billion worth of French imports—including Roquefort cheese, handbags, lipstick, and sparkling wine—in retaliation for France’s tax on American tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook. The Office of the US Trade Representative charged Monday that France’s new digital services tax discriminates against US companies. The trade office will accept public comments on the tariffs, which could hit 100%, through Jan. 6. The French tax is designed to prevent tech companies from dodging taxes by putting headquarters in low-tax EU countries. It imposes a 3% annual levy on French revenues of digital companies with yearly global sales worth more than $830 million and French revenue exceeding $27.7 million.

The US also criticized the French tax for targeting companies’ revenue, not their profits, and for being retroactive, the AP reports. The decision to pursue tariffs "sends a clear signal that the United States will take action against digital tax regimes that discriminate or otherwise impose undue burdens on US companies," US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said. He warned that the US is also looking into digital taxes introduced by Austria, Italy, and Turkey. The decision to target France got bipartisan endorsement from GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden. In a joint statement, they assailed the French digital tax as “unreasonable, protectionist and discriminatory." (Trump slapped tariffs on another two countries Monday.)


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