Trump administration launches investigation into French plan for tax on tech giants

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The Trump administration on Wednesday announced an investigation into the French government over its plans to implement a tax on technology companies.

United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerChinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks MORE expressed concerns that the French digital tax could disproportionately affect American companies.

“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,” Lighthizer said in a statement.

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The French finance minister said in March that the country would impose a 3 percent tax on the annual revenues of technology companies that make at least 750 Euros annually and provide services to users in the country.

The tax would affect multiple U.S. tech giants, including Apple, Google and Amazon.

The USTR investigation could serve as a precursor to the implementation of tariffs or other trade measures against France at a time when President TrumpDonald John TrumpS&P 500 breaks 3,000 for first time Strife between Seoul and Tokyo makes Kim Jong Un’s DMZ victory even more valuable Chamber of Commerce hires former Giuliani, Cruz campaign aide MORE has ignited trade disputes with other allies.

The USTR will conduct the assessment under the authority of Section 301, the same provision that Trump has used to cite national security concerns in imposing steep tariffs on Chinese imports.

Trump has faced criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike over his liberal use of tariffs as a negotiating tool. The U.S. and China have been engaged in a tit-for-tat trade dispute, and Trump has threatened Japan, Mexico and the European Union with tariffs over what he has deemed unfair trade relationships.

But Wednesday’s investigation was greeted with bipartisan support.

Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Appeals court appears skeptical of upholding ObamaCare mandate | Drug pricing deal faces GOP pushback | Trump officials look for plan B after court strikes drug TV ad rule Trump officials seek plan B on drug pricing rule GOP senators raise concerns over potential deal to lower drug prices MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Appeals court appears skeptical of upholding ObamaCare mandate | Drug pricing deal faces GOP pushback | Trump officials look for plan B after court strikes drug TV ad rule GOP senators raise concerns over potential deal to lower drug prices Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Arguments in ObamaCare lawsuit begin Tuesday | What to expect in major test for health law | Democrats launch new blitz against GOP over lawsuit MORE (D-Ore.) said the French policy “unfairly targets American companies in a way that will cost U.S. jobs and harm American workers.”

Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyTop Republican offers resolution following Trump tax return lawsuit House Democrats sue Treasury to turn over Trump tax returns Trump signs bipartisan IRS reform bill MORE (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said he backed the move from the Trump administration and called on France to scrap the measure altogether.