Published On: Tue, Jan 14th, 2020

EU news: EU visits US for trade talks with Trump threat on cheese tax | World | News

EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan will arrive in Washington today to meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a bid to repair peace in the transatlantic relationship. The US President made the threats in retaliation to a French tax on US tech firms, including Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, which will start early this year. Back in June, the French Senate approved a three percent levy that will apply to revenue from digital services earned in France by firms with more than 25 million euros in French revenue and €750million ($845million) worldwide. 

After this was announced, Mr Trump tweeted: “France just put a digital tax on our great American technology companies.

“If anyone taxes them, it should be their home country, the USA.

“We will announce a substantial action on Macron’s foolishness shortly.

“I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine!”

Last month, Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, announced the European country was preparing a “strong European riposte” to Mr Trump’s proposed tariffs.

He also called the tariffs “unacceptable”.

He said on France’s Radio Classique: “This is not the behaviour we expect from the United States vis-a-vis one of its principal allies, France, and, in a general manner, Europe.”

And now Mr Hogan is the latest person to weigh into the dispute.

READ MORE: Brexit warning: Irish MP could take top EU trade job 

Myron Brilliant, executive vice president and head of international affairs at US Chamber of Commerce, was confident about the visit.

She said this week’s visit was Mr Hogan’s “chance to meet with Cabinet members like Bob Lighthizer and Secretary Wilbur Ross, and I think to take the temperature of what’s possible”.

Mr Trump’s tariff threats were also previously branded “absurd” by France’s Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume.

He told BFMTV news channel: “It’s absurd for a political and economic debate to say: ‘You tax the GAFA, we will tax your wine.’

“It’s completely stupid.

“In any case, we will try to negotiate [with the US].”

Other EU countries including Austria, Britain, Spain and Italy also announced plans for their own digital taxes last year.

A levy was said to be needed because big, multinational internet companies such as Facebook and Amazon are able to profit in low-tax countries like Ireland, no matter where the revenue originates.

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