The Trump administration said on Wednesday that it will publish the results of its investigation into the French tax on the turnover of large digital platforms next Monday. The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, would find it “incomprehensible” that Washington is in favor of sanctions, while an agreement at the OECD is close.
Paris holds its breath. Washington announced on Wednesday that its investigation into the French taxation of digital giants “Was about to end”, according to a statement from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Its report will be published next Monday and the administration “Will also announce any measures proposed as part of the investigation”, specifies the press release.
Washington launched on July 10 an investigation against the “Gafa tax”, which imposes up to 3% of their turnover in France on the major digital platforms, mainly the major American groups Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. The file bristles Donald Trump, who made it a subject of open conflict with Emmanuel Macron this summer. During public hearings, the sector had also castigated the French project, which also applies retroactively since the beginning of the year.
Threats of tariffs
In retaliation for the French initiative, the American president threatened at the end of August to impose new customs duties on French wine imports. If he assures that he is not a “big fan” of Gafa, Donald Trump considered that France has “ not to tax our businesses ”. “If they do, we will tax their wine like they have never seen it before”, he threatened before going to the G7 summit in Biarritz.
Paris and Washington hoped they had since eased tensions. At the end of the G7 in Biarritz in August, Emmanuel Macron was pleased to have found a compromise on this thorny issue. “There was a lot of nervousness about this famous French digital tax. I think we found a very good agreement ”, declared the head of state. France has pledged to reimburse the companies concerned the difference between the Gafa tax and the amount of tax that will be owed by the digital giants once the proposal of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is applied.
In the meantime, the international organization has made progress in its work. At the beginning of October, it was able to present a compromise position between the 134 countries participating in the negotiations. The United States actively participated in this work, the Trump administration being paradoxically more inclined to reform international taxation than that of Barack Obama.
A sanction against the Gafa tax would cloud the American position. “It would be incomprehensible to engage in a logic of sanctions and trade war, while we have within our reach an excellent international agreement at the OECD”, reacted the Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, in an interview with AFP.
While awaiting the Washington verdict, the tenant of Bercy has shown himself confident. “I spoke yesterday with Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the US Treasury, who assured me that there was no question of sanctions immediately. We agreed together to continue our work on an international solution at the OECD ”, did he declare.