France ready to take Trump’s tariff threat to WTO

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks to media. Paris has long complained about US companies not paying enough tax on revenues earned in France. (AFP)
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.


Indonesia sells Asia’s first 50-year dollar bond to fight pandemic

Updated 07 April 2020

Indonesia sells Asia’s first 50-year dollar bond to fight pandemic

  • Indonesia will use the cash raised to partially ‘fund its COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts’
  • The deal was carried out virtually, with bankers working on the transaction unable to travel to Jakarta

HONG KONG: Indonesia has raised $4.3 billion, including the longest-dated US dollar bond ever issued by an Asian nation, to help the government fund its battle against coronavirus, according to a term sheet reviewed by Reuters.
The deal was finalized in the United States on Monday and sold in maturities of 10.5 years and 30.5 years, worth $1.65 billion each, with a 50-year tranche worth $1 billion.
It was Indonesia’s largest-ever bond, according to the term-sheet which showed Indonesia will use the cash raised to partially “fund its COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts.”
The decision to sell 50-year bonds by the government came after initial conversations with potential investors found there was appetite for such a tenor, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
Asian life insurers, especially some based in Taiwan as well as US fund managers were the largest investors, the sources said. The sources could not be named because they were not authorized to speak to media.
“The mood in the market is starting to feel better, investors are starting to think we could be moving toward the end of the tunnel,” a banker working on the deal said.
The deal was carried out virtually, with bankers working on the transaction unable to travel to Jakarta which would have been normal practice.
Bankers working on the deal said the international travel ban put in place to control the coronavirus pandemic made the transaction more efficient to negotiate.
However, for syndicate bankers selling the deal to investors it was logistically more difficult because trading rooms in the major banks have been scaled back.
Indonesia’s coronavirus cases stood at 2,491 on Monday, with 209 confirmed deaths — the highest number of fatalities in Asia outside China.
Fifty-year bond deals priced in local currencies have been held in the past, Refinitiv data showed. South Korea raised 1.1 trillion won through a 50-year bond in September 2016 that at the time was worth $1 billion.
Indonesia’s government said on Monday it had raised its estimated 2020 net bond issuance to 549.6 trillion rupiah ($33.55 billion) to cover the country’s widening deficit.
It also listed a plan for sales of 449.9 trillion-rupiah ($27.47 billion) worth of “pandemic bonds” to cover additional spending for the COVID-19 response.
Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Standard Chartered were the joint book runners for the deal, the term-sheet showed.