- The US has set the stage to retaliate against a French tax on Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other American technology giants by implementing punishing tariffs.
- That could potentially open another front in a global trade dispute that has sprawled over the past year.
- Trump has separately threatened to slap a tax on auto imports from the EU and lashed out at its central bank for alleged currency manipulation.
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The US has set the stage to retaliate against a French tax on Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other American technology giants by implementing punishing tariffs. Such a move could potentially open another front in a global trade dispute that has sprawled over the past year.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plans to push back against the controversial move at the G7 meeting taking place this week, according to the Associated Press. France moved to impose the digital tax after the European Union failed to take universal action against technology companies, which have been accused of finding ways to avoid corporate tax.
The US this month opened an investigation into the 3% levy, which cleared the French parliament last week and could be signed into law in the coming days. The investigation was opened through Section 301 of the US Trade Act, meaning it could result in tariffs. That was the same provision the Trump administration used when it launched an inquiry that found China engaged in unfair trade practices.
“The United States is very concerned that the digital services tax which is expected to pass the French Senate tomorrow unfairly targets American companies,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a June 10 statement. “The President has directed that we investigate the effects of this legislation and determine whether it is discriminatory or unreasonable and burdens or restricts United States commerce.”
The dispute over technology companies comes at an already contentious time between the US and its European allies. Trump has sharply criticised the bloc over its efforts to crack down on technology companies.
“They make it very – almost impossible – to do two-way business,” the president said last month on Fox Business Network.
Trump has separately threatened to slap a tax on auto imports from the EU and lashed out at its central bank for alleged currency manipulation. The US has also prepared to broaden tariffs against the bloc as part of a long-running dispute over aircraft subsidies.
The White House and Treasury Department did not offer comment on the matter. The USTR did not respond to an email inquiry.
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