Amazon completes its first drone delivery, in England

Amazon shows a flying “octocopter” mini-drone that would be used to fly small packages to consumers. (AFP PHOTO/AMAZON)
Updated 14 December 2016

Amazon completes its first drone delivery, in England

WASHINGTON: Amazon said Wednesday it completed its first delivery by drone, in what the global online giant hopes will become a trend in automated shipments by air. 
The delivery to a customer near Cambridge, England, was announced in a tweet by Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos.
“First-ever #AmazonPrimeAir customer delivery is in the books. 13 min — click to delivery,” he wrote of the December 7 order.
A video on Amazon’s web page showed the delivery process — with a quadcopter drone delivering an Amazon Fire TV box and a bag of popcorn to a customer identified only as Richard B.
Amazon, which has been testing drone deliveries in the US and elsewhere, has on several occasions complained that the regulatory environment in the United States for these automated deliveries is more cumbersome.
In its video, Amazon noted that it is working with two customers receiving drone deliveries in the Cambridge area and soon hoped to expand to “dozens” near its warehouse.
Amazon is not the only group working on drone deliveries. Google parent Alphabet has a similar project known as Wing and some reports say US retail behemoth Wal-Mart is also studying drone deliveries.
In the US, the first commercial drone delivery was made in July when convenience store 7-Eleven, with drone startup Flirtey, transported a chicken sandwich, hot coffee and donuts to a customer near Reno, Nevada.
Project Wing announced plans this year to deliver burritos in partnership with US food chain Chipotle to students at Virginia Tech University, one of the campuses where drone research is being conducted.
US officials earlier this year announced the first steps in drone regulations, covering applications such as newsgathering and commercial flights over populated areas.
But the first set of rules stopped short of allowing some long-sought applications, including delivery of goods by retailers like Amazon in populated areas.
Amazon got British approval this year for flying drones that are no longer within sight of their operators in rural and suburban areas; having one person operate several highly automated drones; and testing devices to make the drones able to identify and avoid obstacles
The world’s largest online retailer, Amazon raised eyebrows in late 2013 with its plan to airlift small parcels to customers by drone in select markets less than 30 minutes after orders are received.


France ready to take Trump’s tariff threat to WTO

Updated 08 December 2019

France ready to take Trump’s tariff threat to WTO

  • Macron government will discuss a global digital tax with Washington at the OECD, says finance minister

PARIS: France is ready to go to the World Trade Organization to challenge US President Donald Trump’s threat to put tariffs on French goods in a row over a French tax on internet companies, its finance minister said on Sunday.

“We are ready to take this to an international court, notably the WTO, because the national tax on digital companies touches US companies in the same way as EU or French companies or Chinese. It is not discriminatory,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 3 television. Paris has long complained about US digital companies not paying enough tax on revenues earned in France.

In July, the French government decided to apply a 3 percent levy on revenue from digital services earned in France by firms with more than €25 million in French revenue and €750 million ($845 million) worldwide. It is due to kick in retroactively from the start of 2019.

Washington is threatening to retaliate with heavy duties on imports of French cheeses and luxury handbags, but France and the EU say they are ready to retaliate in turn if Trump carries out the threat. Le Maire said France was willing to discuss a global digital tax with the US at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but that such a tax could not be optional for internet companies.

“If there is agreement at the OECD, all the better, then we will finally have a global digital tax. If there is no agreement at OECD level, we will restart talks at EU level,” Le Maire said.

He added that new EU Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni had already proposed to restart such talks.

France pushed ahead with its digital tax after EU member states, under the previous executive European Commission, failed to agree on a levy valid across the bloc after opposition from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

The new European Commission assumed office on Dec. 1.