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U.S. considers 100% tariffs on French Champagne, cheese, handbags over digital tax

25 Comments
By David Lawder and Andrea Shalal

The U.S. government on Monday said it may slap punitive duties of up to 100% on $2.4 billion in imports of French Champagne, handbags, cheese and other products, after concluding that France's new digital services tax would harm U.S. tech companies.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office said its "Section 301" investigation found that the French tax was "inconsistent with prevailing principles of international tax policy, and is unusually burdensome for affected U.S. companies", including Alphabet Inc's Google, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the U.S. government was also exploring whether to open similar investigations into the digital services taxes of Austria, Italy and Turkey.

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

The trade agency said it would collect public comments on its proposed tariff list through Jan. 14 and hold a public hearing on Jan. 7. It did not specify an effective date for the proposed 100% duties.

The list targets some products that were spared from 25% tariffs imposed by the United States over disputed aircraft subsidies, including sparkling wines, handbags and make-up preparations - products that would hit French luxury goods giant LVMH and cosmetics maker L'Oreal hard.

The findings won favor from U.S. lawmakers and U.S. tech industry groups.

"The French digital services tax is unreasonable, protectionist and discriminatory," Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Wyden, the top Republican and Democrat, respectively, on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a joint statement.

A spokeswoman for the French embassy in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

25 Comments

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You can't. All Champagne comes from France.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Meh. Let the Americans eat American cheese. 

More quality cheese for the rest of us.

Actually, the Dutch can fill that void easily as well as the Germans, Swiss, Swedes and Danes, Italians and Greeks, we dominate the Cheddar field, so not getting French cheese is really not a big deal as long as we have these other countries to get tasty cheese from. Champagne....sigh, we can turn to the Brits...if it really comes to that.

-13 ( +0 / -13 )

Donald Trump is dishonest. Even his most fervent supporters acknowledge that.

No, we don’t think that, but we don’t think he’s perfect either. He is a mere mortal.

The prime focus of Trump, and the Republicans, is to injure the poor and worship the wealthy.

The wealthiest people in America are all liberals, liberals that support the wealthy and not the poor, you got it totally wrong.

They're happiest if the wealthy are white,

Which most of the richest people in America are, white, liberal and filthy rich.

but their prime goal is to inflict misery on the most vulnerable people in the nation.

The liberal States are doing a swell job at taking care of the poor, that’s why the homeless population is exploding.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

NO French champangene for Trump's impeachment and downfall! That is really a big pity!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So both of these guys are wrong?

Yes.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Because he has consistently claimed that those companies have too much power and influence.

Donald Trump is dishonest. Even his most fervent supporters acknowledge that. The prime focus of Trump, and the Republicans, is to injure the poor and worship the wealthy. They're happiest if the wealthy are white, but their prime goal is to inflict misery on the most vulnerable people in the nation.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Why is the US government getting involved ? This has nothing to do with the US and even less with free trade agreements.

It's about making pay their fair share of taxes to the companies operating in France making money out of French citizens and evading taxes ...

So both of these guys are wrong?

"The French digital services tax is unreasonable, protectionist and discriminatory," Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Wyden, the top Republican and Democrat, respectively, on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a joint statement.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

"French champagne" is redundant.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

So New Year’s is coming. A toast! Oh.... that’s right.... America is great again....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ah, trade wars are "easy", according to Trump, so just have France likewise slap 100% on all US imports. They can get it all elsewhere,

Uh-Huh, where?

while the US suffers even more and farmers who proudly voted Trump commit suicide because of bankruptcy.

Lay off CNN, just a tad.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

zichiToday 02:26 pm JST

The rich will still drink their champagne and buy their luxury bags.

Could even be counter productive, people buy those as a display of status; more expensive, higher status ...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The rich will still drink their champagne and buy their luxury bags.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Why is the US government getting involved ? This has nothing to do with the US and even less with free trade agreements.

It's about making pay their fair share of taxes to the companies operating in France making money out of French citizens and evading taxes ...

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The U.S. Trade Representative's office said its "Section 301" investigation found that the French tax was "inconsistent with prevailing principles of international tax policy, and is unusually burdensome for affected U.S. companies", including Alphabet Inc's Google, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc.

From the country that spent the last 3 years imposing tariffs on billions of dollars of products from different countries. Bullies are always the ones that whine the loudest.

Anyway, France will not lose any market. It will just move to China.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Ah, trade wars are "easy", according to Trump, so just have France likewise slap 100% on all US imports. They can get it all elsewhere, while the US suffers even more and farmers who proudly voted Trump commit suicide because of bankruptcy.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Sneezy

Because he has consistently claimed that those companies have too much power and influence.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"The French digital services tax is unreasonable, protectionist and discriminatory," Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Wyden, the top Republican and Democrat, respectively, on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a joint statement.

Are they wrong?

Because all of the other trade wars are really paying off.

They really are! Have ye seen the latest numbers for the U.S. economy / median household income / stock market? Trump's doing something right! No wait, I keep forgetting, it's still the Obama economy!

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

I suppose the very concept of making tech companies pay any tax at all must seem shocking to American lawmakers.

Gotta side with France on this one.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Hopefully more countries will follow Frances lead on this one, these corps dodge way too much tax.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

So it means that all the GAFA can enjoy to sell all over the world without paying any taxes or only in the tax heavens ?

Hope EU will apply equivalent tax amount to US.

Anyway , this Trump adminstration is completely unfair . We have to stop any kind of agreement with US as long as Trump  is President or as long as the same policy is applied.

What do they think they are ?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Guess things must be heating up over in the Rayburn Building, where the impeachment investigation is going to be calling Trump's former attorney to give evidence. The SH seems to feel that any distraction at this point is helpful.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Must say that the notion of the DT administration protecting the likes of Google and Facebook from paying more tax is a bit odd.

Why? Protecting the wealthiest and hurting the unfortunate is the modus operandi of the Trump administration.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Bit sad if the only meaningful French exports to US they can think of penalizing are champagne, cheese and pricey handbags.

I guess we should expect sales of US bubbly (some of it not bad), US cheese (ditto) and US branded handbags (most of which are anyway manufactured in Asia) to go up......

Must say that the notion of the DT administration protecting the likes of Google and Facebook from paying more tax is a bit odd.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Because all of the other trade wars are really paying off.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Meh. Let the Americans eat American cheese.

More quality cheese for the rest of us.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

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