The US administration has begun to study the implications of France’s decision to develop its own legislation governing the taxation of American digital giants, as well as considering possible responses from Washington. This is stated in a statement released on Wednesday by the representative of the United States at the trade negotiations, Robert Lightheiser.
“The United States is extremely concerned that the digital services tax, which is expected to be approved tomorrow by the French Senate, is unjustly directed against American companies,” he said. “The president instructed us to study the consequences of the introduction of such a law and determine whether it is discriminatory or unjustified and, thus, complicates and restricts US trade,” the US representative said. Lightheiser also stressed that US law gives him “the authority to investigate unfair trade practices on the part of a foreign country and take retaliatory measures.”
Earlier, the business news agency Bloomberg, citing two sources, reported that the US administration, following a study of the effects of France’s decision on American companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, may impose additional duties on French goods and services. Countermeasures may be similar to those taken by the United States against Chinese companies accused of stealing American intellectual property.
According to the agency’s publication, Republican Congressman Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Legal Committee of the US Congress, and senior Democrat Ron Wyden of this committee, last month sent a letter to US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin asking to convince Paris to refrain from imposing an additional tax on the American digital giants. Senators recommended using for this “all available legislative means”, including doubling the tax rate of French citizens and companies in the United States. It is believed that with respect to Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and other digital corporations, taxation should be based on the countries in which they receive the main profit, and not from where their head offices are located. The most active supporters of the introduction of such a digital tax are France and the United Kingdom, which have already begun to work out their own legislation to this effect. At the same time, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Mayor, who participated in the two-day meeting of finance ministers and heads of central banks of the G20 in Fukuoka, Japan, in June, allowed Paris to reject such an idea if unified international rules were adopted.