Trump proposes tariffs up to 100% on $24B in French wine, cheese, other goods

by Jordyn Pair · Dec 3rd, 2019 9:12 am
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Last Updated Dec 3rd, 2019 at 9:43 am

The Trump administration has proposed tariffs of up to 100 percent on $2.4 billion in a variety of French imports after the country implemented a tax targeting U.S. tech companies like Apple and Google.

The French tax applies a three percent tax on revenue reaped in France by U.S. tech companies like Apple Inc. and Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc. The tax, which was signed into law in late July, affects revenue from activities like targeted advertising or running a digital marketplace.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office said in an investigation released late Monday that the Digital Services Tax applied largely to services dominated by U.S. companies and does not tax areas where French companies are dominant.

"Statements by French officials responsible for proposing and enacting the French DST show that the law deliberately targets U.S. companies," the USTR's office said. The office also said that French officials "repeatedly referred to the French DST as the 'GAFA tax,' which stands for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon."

The proposed tariff would affect $2.4 billion in imports, less than five percent of the $52 billion in goods imported from France in 2018. The tariff would be implemented against a variety of items, including wine, cheese, handbags, and porcelain, according to a list of 63 different tariff codes released by the USTR's office.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement that the proposed tariff would send "a clear signal that the United States will take action against digital tax regimes that discriminate or otherwise impose undue burdens on U.S. companies."

The USTR said it will be holding public hearings on the proposed tariffs on January 7 and will be accepting public comments through January 14.

The office said it would also consider similar tariffs against Austria, Italy, and Turkey, which also have digital-services taxes.

Follow Jordyn Pair on Twitter at @JordynPair.